13-year-old May was introduced to football at age nine – little did she know that she would be enrolled in an academy and winning prizes for her regional team just a few years later! Living in an impoverished community in Myanmar, May’s family often struggles to make ends meet, but World Vision provides support by helping them with school materials, rice and mosquito nets.
May practices in the 2,000 capacity stadium on a grass pitch. Football training is her favourite part of the week. Her position hasn’t come easily, but May also knows she’s lucky – not everyone has the talent or circumstances to reach the top. “My brother was a qualified player in the area where we live. He is really into football. However, when we both went in for an interview to qualify to attend the Institute of Sports and Physical Education, I was the one chosen,” said May. Since then, she has made her parents and brother proud.
“My father plays football with me whenever I need someone to practice with,” said May. Her father owns a shop that sells rice and curry near an area popular with tourists. World Vision provides their family with school materials, rice and mosquito nets.
At the academy a proper nutritious meal program is arranged for all the girls. May works hard to balance training with her schoolwork. The football training session in the morning is from 6-7am and the evening session resumes from 3-5pm. School lessons slots in inbetween from 8am until 12pm.
Friends are vital for May and football helps create a team spirit. “My friends call me Thay Thay (meaning small) because I am so small. They love me very much,” May smiles.
May shows off the picture of her accepting the prize taken at the U14 Girls’ Regional Championship for Southeast Asia 2015, in Vietnam. Her team made Myanmar proud; reaching third-place and the prize for “Fair play”.
She has made her parents very proud of her. Her team won first prize in a match against another town. “It was the most amazing moment to win first prize and receive a cash award. The success is also the result of support from my parents,” said May. “I sometimes help my parents at their shop,” she said. “I gave the cash award to my father and mother. I am trying hard to help my parents open a bigger shop that sells rice and curry,” said May.
“I also try not to miss out on my studies. I don’t want to fail them,” says May. She does her schoolwork every day after 5pm when she finishes her football training. “It was because of my mother’s encouragement to attend the Institute of Sports and Physical Education, that I enrolled,” she said.
May’s brother introduced her to football when she was nine and she’s loved it ever since. Whenever her brother needs someone to play football with, she’s all too eager. Out of the two of them, she’s been the one fortunate enough to be chosen to attend the football academy. She is the second youngest of four siblings and her father said she has made the family and the country proud of her.
World Vision’s work in Myanmar started in the 1980s. In that time we’ve focused on providing healthcare, education and skills training to children living in the poorest communities, and giving a helping hand to families like May’s, providing them with better economic security.