PHNOM PENH: U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia W. Patrick Murphy signed “The Ball” – soccer’s equivalent to the Olympic Torch – during a fair play soccer match at Central Park Sports Complex, highlighting the United State’s longstanding commitment to addressing the climate crisis. The Ball is an initiative of Spirit of Football, a nonprofit that uses soccer as a tool to tackle global challenges.
U.S. Embassy Phnom Penh and the NGO Indochina Starfish Foundation (ISF) are hosting The Ball’s global journey through Phnom Penh from March 23 to March 25, 2023. Spirit of Football will conduct a two-day workshop on March 23 and March 24 where it will share its educational methods on sustainability with participants from partner organizations. The Ball will then travel to Siem Reap and Battambang.
“Soccer, the beautiful game, is a fun and creative way to come together and champion global issues that impact all of humanity,” said Ambassador Murphy.
He added, “We are proud to work with partners like Spirit of Football to combat climate change and encourage Cambodia’s young people especially to commit to protecting the environment.” 
The Ball is traveling from the site of the world’s first official game of soccer in 1864 in Battersea Park, London to Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, the site of the kick-off game of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup on July 20, 2023. As The Ball travels around the world, it gathers signatures of individuals who pledge support to advance gender equality and climate action. Since 2002, more than 55,000 people in 55 countries have signed The Ball.
Sports diplomacy is a key component of the United States’ public diplomacy efforts and supports broader U.S. foreign policy strategy by addressing key issues and engaging marginalized communities including youth, women, girls, and persons with disabilities.
In the Kingdom, U.S. sports diplomacy programming has strengthened people-to-people ties between Cambodian and Cambodian-American athletes; enhanced the personal and professional development of youth and adults in rural Cambodia; and championed key global issues including climate change and gender equality.
Photo by: Supplied