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Indochina Starfish Foundation Overview

ISF provides education, healthcare and sporting opportunities to disadvantaged children in Cambodia. In addition ISF provides support services to the families of the children in our education programme to enable them to break the cycle of poverty they are currently trapped in.

Through ISF’s Education Programme, which is a community-based model, services are provided to children and their families within their communities, thus preventing the children from being unnecessarily institutionalised. This model provides opportunities to the children and their parents to empower them to change their own circumstances. The parents are also involved in the key decision making of ISF, which provides them with dignified support that respects them, rather than providing hand-outs and creating dependency on ISF.

The intended benefits of the programme to every child we work with is that we give the foundations of an education, improve their health and nutrition, give them confidence and give them the opportunity to aspire to a better life. We support the students through to gainful employment.

ISF has grown from providing basic education opportunities to 18 children in 2006 to over 400 in 2014. Our plan is to take an additional 100 students into our education programme each year. Through the services provided to the families of the children ISF works with, close to an additional 2,000 people are supported.

ISF, with the support of the Football Federation of Cambodia (FFC), plays a key role in providing grassroots footballing opportunities to some of Cambodia’s most disadvantaged children. This programme has grown from 50 players in 2006 to almost 3,500 in 2014; our provision of football for female players has grown from 48 players in 2008 to over 1,400 in 2014; 2011 saw the addition of deaf and hearing impaired players, ISF has since built on the foundations of this programme; and March 2013 expanded to introduce football activities to players with intellectual disabilities.

The Football Programme has a League which operates for 6 months a year and 4 annual tournaments held in February, March, June and September. In addition to this we have added an educational element to use the platform of football to teach the children valuable life lessons such as the dangers of drugs, alcohol and gambling and about prevalent social issues such as domestic violence, human trafficking and gender equality.

Further information can be found on our website at


ISF believes that all children, no matter how disadvantaged, should have the opportunity to enjoy themselves by participating in organised sport. To this end we sponsor a network of football teams for poor Cambodian children and youths from local government schools and other NGO’s. The ‘FABBAs Tigers’ is one such team.

All costs associated with The FABBAs Tigers, from the coaches who train them twice a week, to kit, boots, equipment, rental of training facilities, transport etc, are funded thanks to the money raised by the FABBAs. In addition, the FABBAs Tigers are invited to participate in our leagues and tournaments throughout the year.

As well as the benefits sport provides to the players, the programme teaches them important life skills that they can use to their benefit in other areas of their lives like the workplace. The programme teaches skills such as respect, teamwork, collaboration and time-keeping. All of these are important attributes that serve the players off the pitch as well as on.

Through the regular contact with ISF’s coaches, the players are positively influenced and inspired by these role models. Too often disadvantaged children are easy prey for exploitation. By giving them a sense of purpose, we are helping to prevent this. Having a programme that encourages the players to be responsible individuals also assists them with making positive life choices. For many of the players who participate in our league, the temptation of escaping the reality of the poverty they were born into is often presented in the form of substance abuse. Having regular positive influences helps guide the players towards making better life choices.

The FABBAs Tigers now consist of two girls teams with over 50 players participating in training each week. Each of the teams are representing FABBAs through their participation in the Barclays / ISF League which takes place every Sunday from November until April. They proudly adorn their kits with the FABBAs logo.

Some of the highlights for the team over the past few years have been:

In the 2011 ISF League the FABBAs Tigers girl’s team won the U13 division.

In July 2011 and 2012 three of the players from the FABBAs Tigers represented Cambodia when they were selected to play for the Cambodian National team in an AFC organised tournament – a huge honour and the opportunity of a lifetime for those involved. We believe this demonstrates the opportunities provided to the players through the ISF Football Programme and how far the girls have come in the short time that they have been part of our activities.

In 2013 FABBAs committed to sponsoring the FABBAs Tigers for an additional 3 years. This will ensure that the children who are part of the ISF programme receive the full benefits of the programme but more importantly are given the opportunity to enjoy their childhood and to have fun!

In addition, some of the funding we’ve received will go towards ISF’s Sports for All Abilities Programme.

ISF’s Sports For All Abilities programme is a project that extended our football programme services in Cambodia to deaf and hearing impaired players as well as players with intellectual disabilities. Ongoing sporting opportunities for players with disabilities are very limited in Cambodia. ISF is addressing this one disability at a time.

In 2011 ISF expanded its football activities to include deaf and hearing-impaired players who now participate in annual tournaments and regular trainings. We successfully integrated deaf teams into our league and tournaments where they played against fully hearing players.

In March 2013 activities for players with intellectual disabilities commenced with games that showcased their interest in participating in organized football activities. The success thus far of the pilot project (which is currently underway) is displaying the desire of these players to continue to participate and engage in regular activities.

In addition to the opportunity provided to the players to take part in organized sports, all of the activities we organized were a platform for the players and for other disabled persons (who attended as spectators) to socialize with their wider community.

We look forward to seeing what the FABBAs Tigers and those supported through ISF’s Sports for All Abilities Programme will achieve in 2014!