by John Haydon
Virak Kchao fell in love with the game of soccer while growing up in American. Now the Northern Virginia native wants to share that passion to unite the Cambodia community in the United States.
Born into a Cambodian family that fled the war-torn Southeast Asian nation, Kchao is seeking out soccer players of Cambodian heritage in the Washington Metropolitan region. His goal is to one day take a team to play in Cambodia. He also wants to set up a game against the Cambodian national team in the D.C. region in December. Cambodia is currently ranked 166th in the FIFA rankings.
"I aim to create a network where Cambodian soccer players from around the country can come together to unite for the love of soccer and our culture," Kchao said. "We have a good core of players now but need more. There are Cambodian soccer players out there, but it is difficult for us to connect since we are so scattered."
Thousands of Cambodian refugees fled to America during the bloody Cambodian civil war to escape the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in the late 1970s.
"They were scattered all across the U.S.," Kchoa said. "My parents decided to reside in Northern Virginia and call it their new home. My father connected with other Cambodians in the area. They played soccer back in Cambodia and continued to play in America. They kept both their culture and love for soccer strong after enduring such turmoil."
Kchao also wants to go back to Cambodia one day with a team of skilled players to help promote soccer in the developing country where many still live in poverty.
"As the years passed, I, along with the sons of other Cambodian soccer players grew up together falling in love with soccer as well," Kchao said. "We have been given all the opportunities and potential in the world to succeed. We have a roof over our heads, plentiful food to eat, and the resources to become strong soccer players. In Cambodia, many children dreaming to play soccer don’t even have shoes. Before that, they have to worry about finding enough food to eat first."
You can call Mr. Kchao at 703-901-1917 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit him a on Facebook.