“When I was in grade 1, I saw older children play soccer in the community near my home. So I asked if I could play. When I toyed around with it, I remembered my first feeling, how I felt very familiar with soccer. So I’ve been playing it until today.” The ‘desire to play’ of ‘Film or Chanchira’, a small, poor World Vision Foundation of Thailand (WVFT) sponsored child from a tiny community in Bangkok had opened new life experiences for her. She had the opportunity to walk onto the Old Trafford stadium as a mascot together with Manchester United players in a match against Liverpool on 12 September, 2015. She also had the chance to practice soccer skills at Manchester United’s soccer academy with children from many other countries through Chevrolet’s Beautiful Possibilities Program.
Now the bright-eyed, smiling girl is already 11 years old. Film still lives with her grandparents in Phaholyothin 45, which is a slum in Bangkok’s Jatujak district. Film does not live with her parents. The imperfections of the environment and domestic situation did not have negative impacts on Film, evidenced by her smiles and sparkling eyes. “No scar from the unfortunate domestic situation can be seen in Film. She is a diligent student and excels in school. She scored number 1 in her exam. Film got a 4.0 Grade Point Average (GPA) in English. She is assertive and has the courage to ask and answer questions, as well as volunteer as a class representative,” said Sirilak Wattanachinda, Film’s homeroom teacher on her little student.
Currently Film is a grade 5 student in Bang Bua (Pengtungtrongjit Wittayakarn) School in Jatujak district, Bangkok. Despite her smaller size compared to her peers, she packs a big punch. She does well in school, is a top athlete and does exceptionally well in activities. “I like going to school very much. I like to study. I like every subject. I like meeting my friends and having fun with them,” she noted. Attesting to Film’s words are her smiles, laughter and gaiety that only multiplied when she is surrounded by close friends.
Soccer and futsal remain Film’s most favourite sports. After school she plays for two hours on weekdays and five hours from 3 PM until 8 PM on weekends and holidays. To find this little girl, one must go to the community sport ground. Film is the community’s futsal athlete, a part of the “Phaholyothin 45 Ruam Jai” team which regularly competes in sports tournaments with other communities. At school, Film doesn’t have the chance to display her skills since only boys can participate in the school’s futsal competition. However, she is the substitute player in the school’s futsal team. “Film plays futsal well. She practises diligently even though she knows that she won’t be able to compete as a main player. Yet she keeps practising together with her friends, which reflects her patience, determination and commitment,” commended Natthawut Suksignarm, Film’s physical education teacher.
The opportunities the girl received two years ago have today extended their benefits to her classmates and to the entire Bang Bua School. Chevrolet had collaborated with WVFT to revitalise the school’s playground as well as distributed 50 One World indestructible futbals to promote students to play sports. The school has since decided to include futsal tournament for girls in its sports day, when Film shared the skills acquired from Manchester United’s soccer academy to her friends.
Of late, the little girl dreams of making soccer her profession. She shares her thoughts about her favourite soccer player, Daley Blind. “I play quarterback like Daley Blind. I’ll practise until I play well like him. I miss him. If I have the chance, I’d like to see him again.”
Film-Chanchira’s imperfections are offset by her positive attitude to life, as well as her strong emotional and physical health honed by soccer. The result is her smile of happiness; a force of life that will lead her towards a fulfilled future. This is because the power of play always creates beautiful possibilities.
* Although the Jatujak project is closed down, WVFT continues with its work to improve the well-being of children, families and communities nationwide through various activities.