Female Champions Are Hoping To Inspire Young Women and Girls to Get Into Sports


Abhijeet Sandilya

3/8/20242 min read

Men have traditionally dominated sports, but over the last few years, Cambodian women athletes have shown that they are, at the very least, as strong, as determined, and as resilient as their male counterparts.

In celebration of International Women’s Month 2024, six inspiring Cambodian women athletes come together to rally women and girls to take up sports and become champions, including paralympians and ASEAN Para Games gold medalists Vet Chantha (athletics) and Doung Chanraksa (wheelchair basketball), SEA Games bronze medalist Som Chhinda (tennis), top long-distance runner Heng Meyjou (athletics), Golden Boot awardee Ban Cheavey (football), and MMA fighter and actor, Sam Tharoth (bokator).

The 6 women athletes are featured in the 8-episode video series Change the Game កីឡាដើម្បីផ្លាស់ប្តូរ, which will be broadcast throughout March on multiple online and offline channels. In the video series, each athlete shares her journey into sports and recounts how she overcame great personal challenges to become a champion.

In another set of videos, the 6 athletes come together in a roundtable discussion to share their thoughts on how to amplify the female voice in sports and how they, as a community of women leaders, can help encourage more women and girls to get into sports.

Sam Tharoth, recognized as the first female mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter in Cambodia, is leading this batch of athletes as consultant for the project.

“This project is very close to my heart. Growing up, there were not a lot of opportunities for young girls like me to get into sports, much less into martial arts, which most people consider up to this day as a sport for men,” says Sam, whose beginnings in the Cambodian martial art, Kun L’Bokator, are well documented in the film, Surviving Bokator.

“It was very difficult, but with the support of my family and the Bokator community, and with help from the media showing how this Little Frog (her moniker in the sports world) is as tough as any other fighter out there, I was able to do it.”

Tharoth is also an actor and a stuntwoman, and more importantly, an advocate for women empowerment and gender equality in sports and education.

“This is a great opportunity for athletes like me to use our stories of triumphs and successes to inspire young Cambodian women and girls out there to consider a future in sports, which can be rewarding and fulfilling,” adds Sam.

Sam’s video is the first to be broadcast out of the series, followed closely by the stories of the 5 other athletes and the group’s roundtable discussion. The trailer for Change the Game កីឡាដើម្បីផ្លាស់ប្តូរ is released on International Women’s Day, March 8.

Change the Game កីឡាដើម្បីផ្លាស់ប្តូរ is produced by Dei Thmei Creative Studio and UNIX Production, with the help of its partners Plan International, PSE Institute Film School, Go Gym, Gear Up Sports Store, Revlon, Sunflower Media, Cambodia Kun Bokator Federation, Tennis Cambodia, Dua Dewi, Decathlon, Aeon Mall, and Factory Phnom Penh.

Media partners broadcasting the videos include PNN, Khmer Times, Fresh News, Keila News, Tnaot App, Legend Cinema, Major Cineplex, and Humans of Cambodia.

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