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How ISF Is Nurturing Future Sport For Social Impact Leaders

At ISF, we’ve always believed that it’s not problems that matter most, given that problems are inevitable. It’s the way we respond to them that is truly important, as individuals and as an organization. COVID-19 has been a bigger problem than we could have anticipated. Still, the same principle holds true. For our Football Programme staff – whose work revolves around a risky contact sport this challenge seemed nearly insurmountable. But their determination and innovation in the face of adversity never fails to surprise us. 

We’ve already shared how our coaches became community champions, promoting COVID-19 prevention tips such as social distancing and  hygiene practices. Our coaches also invented Social Distance Football, and have completed physically-distanced training sessions to improve their capacity to work with deaf players. Yet, Samedy Yin, ISF Football Programme Manager, decided we could still do more. He began to focus on our youngest coaches. They are the ones who will ultimately shape the future of sport for social impact in Cambodia.

Samedy realised we currently have five junior coaches who have yet to gain their C license. This qualification, granted by the Football Federation of Cambodia (FFC), is the first step to becoming a full-time professional coaches. C Licenses enable coaches to work with community and secondary school teams, B licenses permit employment as assistant coaches in national teams and finally, coaches with A licenses are able to work in top-flight football teams. “It’s very important indeed,” says Samedy. “For people who work in the field of football, it’s like a university degree.”

C License training timeline
The Timeline for studying to be an A Licensed Coach in Cambodia

The FFC awards C licenses after 15 days of intensive training, culminating in a final exam. Although the next training sessions won’t take place until next year, Samedy has begun preparing his coaches now. “We have some excellent coaches here who have years of experience and a B license. They are normally so busy with coaching they cannot spend a lot of time helping out the youngest. But now they have that time, so I want them to make sure the younger coaches are skilled and will pass the C license test their first time.”

It’s certainly not an easy certificate to get, as 25-year-old coach Deth, knows too well. He narrowly failed his first attempt to get the C License. “Actually the training was fun! But practising alongside players from professional clubs was a bit scary and difficult. Maybe that affected my confidence.” Now that he has had personal mentoring from our senior coaches, he feels more confident. “I think I can do it next time, even though it is very difficult. I know that some coaches of professional teams don’t even have the license! But I really want it because you gain so much knowledge from the training, it changes a lot for you.”

"When Covid-19 finally ends, we will be ready. Our coaching staff are going to be better than they have ever been before"

Samedy Yin

Punna, 23 – another one of the five young hopefuls – is hoping for beginner’s luck, even though she has only been coaching professionally for a year. “I learned so many things about football skills, such as how to be a coach, how to manage conflict resolution, and solving problems,” she says. Punna knows these are the key skills required to obtain a C license. “I want to be able to assess players better, so I can be a better coach for them.”

Samedy admits that there is at least one drawback to getting these young coaches such high-level qualifications. “We know this means it’s easier for them to get jobs elsewhere,” he says. “But even though that’s sad for us, we like the idea that our coaches will one day go out and spread the word about how to use sport to encourage social impact. It’s a good thing to make our staff the best in the country, even if some might leave one day.”

Deth says he will definitely be staying at ISF once he passes the exam. “I learn so much here. I see how we really help kids. And I am grateful that I get chances to progress. The Coronavirus pandemic has been very difficult for us and the kids, but there is one small good thing. We have had more time to learn from each other. All the coaches are going to be so excited and so full of knowledge when the football program re-opens.”