Location and general information
Cambodia is one of the countries most affected by landmines anywhere in the world. An estimated 4 to 6 million landmines and cluster bombs and other unexploded ordnance were left behind after nearly three decades of war ending in 1998. Children, particularly those in rural areas, are in particular danger because they are most likely to be unaware of the risks of playing in or traversing hazardous areas.
In Cambodia, children account for up to 50% of landmine casualties, according to the Cambodian Red Cross. Children are far more likely to die from landmine injuries than adults, with an estimated 85% of child victims dying before reaching the hospital.
Landmines also cause gut-wrenching injuries: children may lose their sight or hearing; lose fingers, toes and limbs; or suffer injuries to their genitals. They also suffer psychologically from the trauma of a landmine injury. Without adequate medical treatment, children injured by landmines are often pulled out of school. They face limited future prospects for education and employment and are often perceived as a burden to their families.
Clearing mined areas is expensive, time consuming and complicated when climate, displacement and economic necessity drive people into contaminated areas. The most efficient way to tackle the problem is to make sure children are educated about the types of weapons present in their community and how to avoid them. However, there is a lack of effective mine risk education in Cambodia meaning children lack the knowledge needed to stay safe.
Spirit of Soccer's mission is to use football to educate children living in conflict and post-conflict regions about the dangers of landmines, unexploded ordnance (UXO) and other explosive remnants of war. It educates, trains and employs local football coaches and teachers. They are taught how to deliver its curriculum, which uses easy-to-understand football-related lessons to teach children how to identify and avoid specific threats posed by explosive remnants of war in their communities. The approach is culturally sensitive and adapted to local cultural, religious and social needs. The focus is on a fun, safe environment that is inclusive to all and provides healthy physical activity, hope and happiness.
Through its work, Spirit of Soccer addresses Sustainable Development Goal 16: Peace Justice and Strong Institutions, with a specific focus on Target 16.1: Significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere.
The project aims to deliver mine risk education to approximately 12,000 Cambodian children through football/MRE clinics and MRE tournaments and a further 24,000 Cambodian children through a multimedia campaign involving the distribution of posters and school notebooks. Spirit of Soccer will provide all services and materials, including:
- an MRE curriculum to be delivered by (locally trained and recruited) Spirit of Soccer coaches to 12,000 at-risk Cambodian children, with the assistance of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) and the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA);
- distribution of 500 footballs featuring mine education messages;
- training of 20 teachers – through a coaching/MRE course and workshop based on the Spirit of Soccer’s football/MRE curriculum – who will promote MRE messages in their local communities;
- distribution of 10,000 school notebooks featuring world-renowned football stars endorsing safe behaviours for schoolchildren to follow should they encounter mines or explosive remnants of war.
- Coaches and teachers trained to be mine risk educators
- Mine risk education delivered directly to children in at-risk communities through educational football clinics
- Regular mine risk education festivals to expand the indirect reach to the wider community
The project aims to achieve a 75% or higher favourable response to certain key indicators about mine safety knowledge as tracked by its M&E system to demonstrate the effectiveness of the football programme as a vehicle for mine risk education.