Life for an Aussie chick in North West Cambodia. Local work in sports, education and development.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Taekwondo Continues

This morning I had a coffee with Taekwondo coach, Savuth. He updated me on the Siem Reap competition in November last year.

A small team from Poipet went to compete, with medals brought back in the 49kg weight division (Malai) and the 62kg division (Samuth). 

One of the Siem Reap government officials from Siem Reap was particularly impressed that Poipet has a Taekwondo Club. Maybe our equipment is a little worn and we only have a small space for training. However, we do have a registered club, competent coaches, courageous fighters and perhaps fifty teenagers who are interested in training. We can bring a small, competitive team to a national tournament. And this surprised a government official in Siem Reap.

There is a sense of honour for those who represent Poipet at a national competition. At eh opening and closing ceremonies, participants literally carry the name of their club as they stand to attention during speeches, photos and award presentations. 

I look forward to seeing this continue in the next tournament in April, 2013.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Support for Adelaide Ultra

Real mountains.
Real food.
Amazing friends.
More Gatorade.
Prayers of thanks.
Salt tablets.

Adelaide Ultra

 Pre-race. Cold and a little nervous!
 Easy jog into one of the checkpoints (I think this one was at about 20km.)
 Putting on the speed at the finish line! (6:52:20)
A reward for all finishers!

These are some pics for mum... and any other people who still check this blog but don't use facebook!

On Sunday, September 23, Mel and I ran 56km in the Adelaide Hills. It was our first trail ultra. I never thought I'd find a running buddy who would sign up for a race this tough! It's as much a mental battle as a physical test so I enjoyed having someone to run with, talk with.. and hurt with. Seeing many people bloodied and dirty at the end, it was great to get through in a decent time without any injuries. 

We completed the run in under 7 hours and placed 50th out of a total of 239 finishers. For me, this was enough for 3rd in my age group and 13th out of the women. (There are some amazing hard-core trail running chicks out there!)

I remember at one point in the race, Mel asked, "Why are we doing this?" I replied, "To push the boundaries of 'impossible'." 

For Mel it was a "life changing experience" because she never thought she could run so far. She's kinda hooked! Mel now likes trail ultras better than road marathons and wants to do more! She said she also learned about humility.

Naomi was our awesome support crew, cheer squad, transport and photographer! (Thai for carb-loading the night before, for example. Naomi you know my every need!) Her hubbie Chris was Naomi's support crew, cheer squad, transport etc. What a team :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Meet Coach Joshua

I'm writing a report on our football activities today. Included in the report are some short interviews with some of our players and coaches. Here's the first part of an interview with Joshua. His words blew me away, reminding me again of how easy it is to enable young people to play football for real and how much joy that brings to them.

My name is Joshua Thoang, and I am 22 years old. I have been a football coach since 2007.

From the time I was 14 years old I lived in an orphanage. One day I watched a football game on the TV and I saw the players wearing nice uniforms and having fun. I was very interested in this and I wanted to play football too, but I didn't know how to play. Then one day, I decided to take a cement bag and make it into a ball so that I could play with my friends at the orphanage. Some of us knew how to play and some of us did not, and we all had fun! At that time, I hoped to one day have a real ball and a nice uniform to wear too. Now I am happy I have a nice uniform, I have nice shoes, I have a ball to play football with, and I am a coach of football too. I am very thankful to God for all these blessings.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fun Day

Last Wednesday we took a break from work and had a Staff Fun Day!

Everyone was there- expat team members, full-time local staff and part-time staff. Immediate families were invited and some people also invited a close friend. Our team of a dozen swelled to over thirty men, women and children. It was a joyful day of celebration!

It was the first time we've done something like this for the whole team over a whole day. Our theme was remembering God's promises, based on the sign of the rainbow God gave to Noah after the flood. The room was decorated according to the theme. In the morning we had prayer, reflection, worship, fun games and preparing for our lunch-time feast. After lunch we had a concert & I gave gifts to our team. It was good to leave Poipet with sweet memories of hard work and also fun times together as a team.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Taekwondo Tournament

Last weekend the Poipet Taekwondo Club made their debut in a National Competition. It was great to see the team step up to the challenge!

In 2012, we have had the use of a large, well-ventilated building, rent-free. Unfortunately in June the owner decided to end the agreement. A few weeks later we heard about a competition in Battambang scheduled for August 18-19. I called an emergency iced-latte meeting with coach Savuth and asked, "Do you know anywhere we could use to train a team? It doesn't have to be perfect.... just something that could be used for a month to get ready for the competition?"

Savuth replied, "Yes, I know somewhere. Your place!" 

So we agreed that the roof on our house/ office could be used. For four weeks I've got up before 6am every day to unlock the doors. I've also taken the guys out to run as part of their conditioning training. Some days the guys trained for 1 hour a day, sometimes they trained twice a day. I didn't compete in the Taekwondo tournament, but I felt I was a part of it. 

Our team did well. Two made it through to the afternoon rounds and one Poipet club competitor picked up a medal & prizes for third place. (Not bad for a yellow belt competing against mostly black & brown belts in the 55-62kg division!) The guys are excited and already looking forward to the next competition in Phnom Penh on October 1. 

Now to find somewhere for them to train that doesn't involve me getting up at 5:30am each morning?! :)   

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Unreasonable People

George Bernard Shaw once said, "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."

A friend lent me a book a few weeks ago by John Elkinton & Pamela Hartingan called, "The Power Of Unreasonable People; How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change The World." It's a great read.

It made me think that people of faith are generally unreasonable people too. We practice forgiveness and reconciliation.  We hope when there seems no reason for it. We celebrate life now and firmly believe in life after death. We love people who don't respond in love... hmm...perhaps this is just another way of saying we have some weird friends?! Anyway, maybe you are an unreasonable person? If so, awesome!

Futsal Week 1

Mr Phally stepping onto the court to ref an Under 14s game.

Youth learn football skills and lessons about safe migration & trafficking awareness.

 Coach Vendta giving his team instruction at half-time. 

 Coach Joshua with KEC White Wings Under 14s team members.

White Eagle Kids team in a semi-final match. 

Victory and OV finished as the top two Under 11s teams this year.

KEC White Wings girls match their uniforms with the ball :)

Coach Makara with the winning Girls 15+ team, Myura.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Futsal Plus

Futsal & education are coming together this week. We're doing this massive youth fustal thing with about 170 kids. (Next week there's a further 20 teams or 200 players involved.) As part of the program, another NGO is teaching about safe migration and anti-trafficking.  We're doing it together- meshing the message with a fast, fun sport... and it's a good partnership! 

I've been organising the schedule for the games and I included 6 skills stations with different warm-ups and technical drills. The players all spend a half-day doing these exercises. When our staff & volunteers have exhausted the players with stuff like sit-ups, squats, lunges, punches, kicks, jumps, passing, shooting, dribbling and running... we leave it up to our partner NGO to teach them. Here's some stuff that I've learned:

- Think about what you're doing before making big life decisions.
- Talk to people you can trust about life decisions.
- Tell people where you're going when you go out.
- Don't believe people who promise 'the perfect job'... especially if it's in another country.
- Carry proper documentation if you cross the border to Thailand.
- Memorise a phone number of a parent or a neighbour so you know who to call if you have a problem.

I'm praying these lessons will come back to the futsal players when they need them.