Tournaments are running!

It has been a busy couple of weeks meeting other heads of NGOs and owners of local football fields and general coaching. It was nice to get back to basics on Saturday and just watch a full day U-13s tournament. These tournaments are going to become a regular occurrence; the last three Saturdays of every month will be taken up by a u-14’s, u-16’s and u-18’s. It is an idea a local pitch owner had for children and teams to have a target to aim towards. So children can practice for three weeks or so and then join a tournament. As you may forget that there is no Sunday league here. People don’t go to train and then have a guaranteed game on the Sunday. There is no target for anything they are learning whereas now there is. I hope that these tournaments can last into the future.

Unfortunately, due to a lack of preparation on our part we had neither team nor uniform to put forward for this month’s tournaments. However, I went to watch and see the children play. It was an intense day of matches which included a semi-final of brother against brother, penalties for 3rd place, thunderstorms and a shock loss to the favourites in a dead rubber group match. All in all, it was an exciting and good experience for the children which they would not have had otherwise. As these tournaments continue, I hope that F4K can join and give our players the same learning experience.  This weekend is U-16s which should have some slightly more evenly matched teams. The issue with the u-14s is that some teams seemed to have some very small children who hadn’t had their first growth spurt yet whereas others were seemingly on their last growth spurt – it led to some rather lopsided games in terms of height and score!

I will again this Saturday to watch and perhaps take notes so that I can write a full match report of the final for our avid readers.

Enjoy the photos.

G

Thanks for everything!

So we have started our mission. In between seeing people and finding a place to live we have started finding teams of local children to teach and other local NGO’s to help out at. Due to this it has become difficult in regards to finding the time to actually sit down and write, which is an incredibly important part. I need to build the story of this organisation as it flourishes. The amount of interest that has been shown in the weeks of being here is astounding. We have gone from 2 days a week to 5 days a week with more on the horizon. A highlight of the week is going to a local province just over the river and coaching adults + children in conjunction with another local NGO. We had our first session with them the other day after a night of rain. The pitch we work in on is a local patch of grass outside of a pagoda. To put it lightly, if it was the premier league it would be called off. To put it heavily, you could swim in it which I and many of our players did.  We also share the field with some cows so playing in barefoot meant we stepped in some cow dung, no worries as it is meant to be a good moisturiser. The session runs for 2 hours and we are greeted and seen off to the ferry by the local village children. It is so lovely to see so much joy in the eyes of the children all because of a universal love of football. We just hope that we can have that love grow and blossom in front of us.

The money you have donated has gone to paying for the sessions in the city and a whole set of branded equipment. 20 balls, 20 bibs with our name on and 40 cones. The use and enjoyment these balls will get in the coming months, years is uncountable so I can only thank you for what you have provided.

Now that my internet is slowly getting set up and my house is slowly being sorted we can begin our social media campaign once more and attempt to gather followers and post pictures so that you can see the work we are doing.

Many thanks

G

Guest blogger - Past Me

So, as the days slowly roll past and I slowly prepare to go back, i thought it might be a good idea to have a guest blogger. Unfortunately, I don't know any bloggers. So I thought I might as well put up one of my old blogs from my personal account. COP is the organisation I worked with that ignited the touchpaper. Please enjoy. 

When I first joined the team as a coach it was at the exact same tournament. Under 17s. It was my first experience with them and my lack of khmer was really difficult. I was trying to give advice but could not get it out. Incredibly frustrating.

They came dead last and missed all their penalties.

This tournament was much better. Their maturity and growth in the six months I've been with them is incredible. I know they had matured from playing in the big boys league. So it was an interesting experiment to see what would happen when playing in their own age group once more.

We had just started a new warm up technique so we got all players to turn up early. The tournament started at 0730. We got them there at 0645 and warmed up until 0710. Due to their only being one pitch and the way the pools placed us, our first game? 0930. No need to get there so early! Never mind we played on.

The first game and first half was dire. It was against a team that had some muscular kids and had just battered a team about 4-0. So COP was playing nervously. We had to get to half time.

Half time arrived and we hadn't scored nor had they. It was shaky but we could do it. I had to motivate them and reignite their desire for it. I asked what have they come for? To win? Or to play nicely? They replied they wanted to be champions. I had to get onto Vitu's back telling him if he has come to watch then he can sit with me. Something my Dad used to ask me in Sunday league.

Second half began. I made two subs. A workhorse of Rothana on the right side and our secret weapon of little Roth (13 yrs against big 16/17yrs) in the middle and moved Vitu to the left. It worked. Rothana bust down the right hand side, played in a cross and Vitu was on the end to head it in. 1-0. Now because this was a while ago, I can't remember as to how they equalised but they did. 1-1.

Our secret weapon, little Roth worked. He made some nice movements and Rothana put in another cross of which he headed in. 2-1. Just before the end of the game another chance came of which he volleyed in. 3-1.

Match number two. Local rivals. 
Had to win to advance. First half again was sloppy and they went 1-0. We never looked like we had it in us for most of the half. But then one of our thinkers got the ball, Mony (17 yrs), He played a quick passing move with little Roth and he got it back and scored. 1-1. However they were still all over us. Get them in again. Change it up. My assistant coach spoke to them tactically. I spoke to them passionately. I took Vitu off, he had some blisters from playing in the heat. Brought Rothana on again. We were playing better and were more sound defensively. Though we weren't scoring. Brought Meng (16) off and replaced him with Vitu. Last minute of the game a ball came from the left from little Roth beating his man. Crossed it in, Vitu checked his run and side footed it into the bottom left hand corner. 2-1. Full time.

Semi final. Big rivals who's captain 'looked down on us' according to the players. 
We played well and were sound. It was a feisty game. We were doing fine but just couldn't unlock the door. We hit the bar. We made the keeper work a fair few times. It just didn't want to go in. Then a lapse of concentration from our defender meant they got in one on one and scored. Never mind. 
The lads heads went down. They were panicking and lost their heads in actual fact, 3 players went to close down one and he slipped a ball through 2-0. Game ended a couple of minutes later. We ended up hitting the bar twice and the post once. With the keeper tipping it round to a corner 4 times. Unlucky. 
Penalties with the other losing team to find out who came third. 
Now as an English man I'm never confident with these. Especially since what I had seen all those months ago and we hadn't practiced them since. Little Roth had the confidence to say he wanted to go first. So he was one out of three chosen.
The other two were the captain Hab and Vitu. 
Roth steps up and misses. I told him to pick a corner, not change it and shoot. He didn't change it but he tried to shoot into the corner too well and it went past the post. 
They scored. Pressure on.
Vitu steps up and scores. 
They scored. 2-1. 
Hab steps up and scores. 2-2. 
They step up and it's saved by our keeper, Meng (17). True heroics. He'd saved penalties in the big league as well! 
Another player needed to be picked to take the fourth. I choose Mony. 
Steps up and scores. 3-2. 
They step up and miss! 
We did it! Third. What an improvement, I regret I wasn't able to give them a trophy. But after coming dead last and then in six months coming 3rd. Looking back I'm incredibly proud of their efforts and the result. Of course, the fairytale would be champions. Though it didn't happen. I will remember it forever. Thanks COP, you made me, yourselves and our fans incredibly happy and proud of you. To the next one.

Come read some more at:http://gregorypreston.blogspot.co.uk/

They think it's all over...

This blog post is just a massive thank you note to everyone who donated. I can't believe the outpouring of support that came this way. Both Andy in Cambodia and I are extremely grateful for it. It really was overwhelming.

During the crowdfunding, we became an officially registered charity by the British government with the charity number 1172714. This can be searched for on google and we will come up! When the email came through I wanted to whoop and cheer but I was in a lecture so it wasn't appropriate but you couldn't have paid me enough to wipe the grin off my face! There was a lot of legal questions to answer but we managed it. I was so glad, that months of hard work had paid off. 

This registering and the successful crowdfunding has really encouraged me that we are going in the right direction. However, the hard work doesn't stop here! There's plenty of work ahead of us. I've started the difficult process of trying to apply for a small grant from a trust however due to the niche of being a small British charity working abroad it becomes a bit more difficult to apply but I have found a few and will go through it in due course. If I managed to get past the legal questions that government poses you I'm sure I can get through the questions a grant giving trust has.

After this comes the expansion, we have applied to get shirts, shorts and socks from a charity that collates it all from professional football clubs and distributes it to other local charities. So I'm hoping to receive these by the end of May and take them out with me in June and give them to our players.

The players are what makes it all worth it. They have had a bit of an off time recently with Khmer New Year and Andy coming back to England for a little while and so there hasn't been much training going on but now Andy is back the children are filtering back through and with the new footballs we have, the training has never been better! I'm so excited to be going back and cracking on with the work at hand!

Thank you to everyone who donated, shared and retweeted the posts. You are all too kind.

Cheers,

Greg

And we're live!

And we’re live. The website is live, the social medias are live, the crowdfunding is live. This is all so exciting! I can’t believe this first step is happening! I’m so unbelievably excited. The crowdfunding video was edited together by my good friend Dan Hearn so it’s a huge shout out to him. Thank you so much.

I’ve slaved away at this for a good while now and it’s slowly been reaching the tipping point of where I can’t get any further unless I go public. And here we are, presenting ourselves to the world, ready to be judged. 

The goal of the organisation is to attempt to provide not just coaching to the players but an arm round the shoulder, social assistance and advice in times of need. It’s what a lot of these youths need, they don’t have direction and we feel as an organisation we can go some way to providing that. The youths we help most of the time are on their own, parents are working ridiculous hours to provide for them so much so parenting takes a back seat. Me and Andy have seen this and want to step in and step up to try and provide something similar. We know we can’t replace parents no one can but we can provide assistance and advice to those who need it. We give it if they need or ask for it and all we ask in return is for commitment to the club and organisation. So far it has all gone well but now we need to expand and we can’t do that without some support, we will continue to funnel our own money into it but we need the donations to make the next step of expansion. That’s where you come in, I hope you can help and in turn help them. Please get in touch if you can help with any expertise you may have.

Thanks and see you on the next one.

Crowdfunding link:https://spsr.me/BYV

Greg