Why this amazing soccer player said no to the big leagues

And how the next generation is being groomed on and off the field to build Cambodia's future

In 2011, I booked a one-way ticket from London to Delhi.

I had $500 to my name and no idea of where I would end up, who I was going to meet, or when I was going to see my family again.

In no uncertain terms, I knew that there was a calling out there for me, a purpose to my life.

All I needed was the inspiration.

Fast forward 5 years, and I am in Siem Reap, Cambodia -- a beautiful place, and where I now call home.

I met my wife Tammy here. She’s a fearless, independent girl with her own NGO offering food and education to over 200 children. We married in 2014, and adopted 3 Cambodian children.

Cambodia captures my heart.  There is nowhere else in the world I want to be.

Inspiration for change

When I met Sophal, I was instantly drawn to him.

What a magnificent football player. He could do everything.

After training sessions, we would sit and talk about football and his future. I felt his future was away from Cambodia, but he felt very different.

He said to me, “First I help my country, then I help myself.”

I looked at this 19-year-old boy, and he already had the self-belief that he could change the world around him. I was hooked.

My wife and kids are the strength behind me, but this boy was the inspiration.

How could we do this? How could we change the world using his talent?


Transforming community through soccer

Together with Sophal, we started Next Step FC.

Next Step FC offers young Khmer boys and girls the very best of everything.

We deliver top quality coaching on the field to improve their technical and tactical skills and knowledge. We offer them a chance to play against the best academies in Cambodia, and exposure in front of some of the best coaches.

Off the field, we believe that developing players and guiding them is just as important.

Players have to be willing to help develop their community, be aware of the world around them, and be willing to change it for themselves and their families.

Our belief is in giving the next generation the tools to succeed, both on and off the soccer field.

Next Step FC is raising money to take their top group of players - twenty U16 boys and five Cambodian coaches - on an exposure trip to Singapore in April 2017. Help them fund this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

About Next Step FC

Next Step FC is a Cambodia-based non-profit that supports Cambodian youth through football, with a special focus on players from underprivileged backgrounds. Its team has been playing in local leagues, and some of its players have been signed by professional clubs in Cambodia.



Denise Oliveiro

Video Editor

Anshul Tiwari


Grace Baey