Cambodia’s Mighty Girls

Cambodia has suffered much over the last few decades. And it still suffers the repercussions of its past.

A significant majority of the population is under 21, shifting financial responsibilities onto children and young adults. As a result, many young people rarely complete their education, instead they need to earn a living, or marry early. Girls are particularly at risk of negative social patterns, such as human trafficking and domestic abuse.


The Sports and Leadership Training (SALT) Academy is trying to change this. The organisation uses football to create gradual, grassroots change in local communities.

In 2013, AFDP teamed up with SALT Academy to provide training, housing and educational opportunities for 30 Cambodian at-risk girls. The aim of the project, called The Mighty Girls, was to offer a fair chance at life, and try out a new talent development model.

The Mighty Girls went on to form the core of the Cambodian women’s national football team. Many of the players of Cambodia’s top football club Phnom Penh Crown are also graduates of the academy.

The Mighty Girls continue to excel in football competitions and won the first ever women’s league in Cambodia. Former players are still involved in the professional football world.

Other organisations in the country have started using the same model of working with young people after its resounding success.