What a wonderful adventure Emirates organised for Saray Seng as he travelled with his hero Udom to experience the amazing city of Dubai and the natural beauty of UAE. Its been a very long journey for Saray to change his life and without the amazing support of our partner CCF (Cambodian Children's Fund) and Scott Neeson who knows what path he would have taken.
(L to R) HFCA Founder Paraic Grogan, Prak Mony Udom & Saray after visiting the worlds tallest building, the Burj Khalifa at 828 metres. Image HFCA
Saray’s success is quite an achievement considering where he has come from. He didn’t even kick a football until he was almost 10 years old, having not had the chance to participate in any sport. The youngest of six children, Saray grew up in Prey Veng – one of Cambodia’s poorest provinces where farming is the only industry – and lost both his parents within a few months of each other by the time he was five. He ended up staying with an aunt in Phnom Penh, who, in need of support, took him to CCF when he was eight. It was through CCF that he discovered sport and a passion for football, eventually joining the HFCA program in 2015.
Al Nasr FC & Wahda FC line up with Saray and Udom pre their Arabian Gulf League match. Image AGL
"I didn’t know that I loved football, I didn’t know about sport,” says Saray. “My friends said I should go to football training. I enjoyed it but at first, I didn’t do well but I tried. I can still remember my first proper match on real grass. My friends encouraged me and I started to take it seriously, to play and practice. HFCA selected students to be involved with them and I was one of the top five.”
Saray, Udom and Paraic enjoy their trip to the desert outside Dubai. Image HFCA.
On being selected to travel with Udom to Dubai “I was shocked when they said my name because I did not expect to be selected,” says Saray, an unassuming, polite young man. In 2017 HFCA picked Saray to represent Cambodia at the Homeless World Cup in Norway. He was a great Ambassador for Cambodia in Olso and once again in Dubai. Everyone at HFCA & CCF is proud of him and the fine young man he has become.
Emirates sponsored trip to Dubai brought huge exposure on Facebook. Image HFCA.
Emirates’ Country Manager for Cambodia, Mr. Talal Al Gergawi was very supportive of Saray's trip to Dubai “We are really happy to have worked with HFCA on this collaborative effort. HFCA brings an opportunity like no other for disadvantaged youth in Cambodia through the medium of football. It was an honour for us at Emirates to have been part of this collaborative effort and we hope to see more collaboration in the future and to provide more opportunities to the youth in Cambodia."
Prak Mony Udom with over 60 caps for the Cambodian national team is pictured with his national team manager and Japanese football legend Keisuke Honda. Image Supplied.
Talal also acknowledged Saray and other HFCA players "I would like to congratulate Saray and all the players that participated. They have truly showcased their excellent football skills and we at Emirates wish them all the success."