Sunday, March 20, 2011

Community relations

The students of Sampeau Meas await their gifts
A 5am start in the dark for me this morning, set me on my way to accompany the Academy boys from Phnom Penh Crown as they did their bit for community relations on the Cambodia-Vietnam border at Chrey Thom, on the banks of the Bassac River. The visit was to help recognise and reward the students at Sampeau Meas school located in the border town. A few hundred yards from the school stands the Crown Casino and Hotel and the family of Crown president Rithy Samnang offers support to the school each year, with a reward for the top students and gifts for the remainder, totaling some 700 students. The Academy boys were called in to help distribute the gifts and to show the students that there are now opportunities if you excel at sports, as well as highlighting for the Academy boys another facet of their education; giving back. Local officials and the Academy staff of Bouy Dary and Kao Kiry also took part and I went along for the ride. As well as the distribution of gifts - the top 15 students each got a new bicycle - everyone at the ceremony got an ice-cream or two, which went down really well, and then the Academy boys returned to the casino property where they were allowed to enjoy the jet-skis and banana boat belonging to the casino, on the Bassac river under supervision. They loved it. Following lunch in the casino restaurant, it was back on the bus for the two-hour drive back to the capital. The Academy students were very well-behaved and they've quickly become a real credit to the club. Until a few weeks ago, they could've been one of the school students sat in the audience awaiting their own gift, but they have been given an opportunity of a lifetime to become a professional footballer and they are taking to it with relish.
The Academy boys pose before getting wet on jet-skis and a banana boat
I take a moment to chat to Srey Mom, one of the school students

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