Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Charlton in Cambodian anti-mine football program

England football great Bobby Charlton is touring the South East Asian nation of Cambodia as part of a mission to raise awareness for the country's continuing land mine problem. An estimated 4-6 million mines and other pieces of unexploded ordinance remain buried in Cambodia after more than three decades of armed conflict. "We are going to try to teach young people how to recognise the dangerous mines that are still around," Charlton told The Associated Press on behalf of Spirit of Soccer, a UK/USA charity which helps children in land mine affected areas of the world through football.

According to Khek Ravy, vice president of Football Federation of Cambodia, Charlton will visit land mine areas in Battambang province, about 250 kilometres northwest of the capital Phnom Penh, On Thursday he will then meet with young Cambodian football players to discuss techniques with them. The seventy-year old joined Manchester United FC when he was 17 and was a member of England's 1966 World Cup winning team, the same year he was named European Footballer of the Year.

Spirit of Soccer operates one of its two football coaching projects in Cambodia, the other is in Bosnia in Europe. Charlton visited the latter program in 2005. The Man United director said Cambodia should promote its soccer to as high a level as many of its regional neighbors. "It's about time," he said. "Everyone's waiting for Cambodia. Vietnam, China, everywhere else is very happy playing football."

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