May, age 13, the first prize winner at township level school football match is ready for the morning training sessions at the Sports Institute Stadium in Mandalay region, Myanmar. She is under the special football training by the academic program of Ministry of Sports and trained as a qualified player in the Under-14 football team.

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May starts the training at football academy at 6:00 A.M. by lining up at the stadium field. At the academy, she gets training three times a week - one and half hours in the morning, before school hours that start at 8:00 A.M. and ends at 12:30 P.M. Her schedules are tight as her football training resumes at 3:00 P.M. until 5:00 P.M. for three days a week. In between, she gets a naptime.

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May practices at the 2000-capacity stadium on a grass training pitch in Mandalay. Football training time is the most enjoyable time for the seventh grade student. She’s got a special training scheme set up by the Institute of Sports to help developed her skills to continue to qualify as a U14 player and for the future Sea Games. May took part at the U14 Girls' Regional Championship for Southeast Asian zone in Vietnam. Her team won third-place and the prize for “Fair play”.

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For May, playtime is her training session with U14 team mates. Her position doesn’t come easily. Her introduction to football started since nine years old in fourth grade when her brother taught her how to play football. “My brother was a qualified player in the quarter where we live. He was really into football and whenever he needs someone to practice with, I’m the one. I got to love football since then. However, when we both went in for an interview to qualify to attend the Institute of Sports and Physical Education, I am the one chosen but not my brother. May makes her parents proud.

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Her talent in football has grown and she’s also qualified for her school’s football team. Her team won the first prize at township level match. “It was the most joyful moments to get the first prize and also cash award. The success is also the result of the support from my parents.” She’s also a helping hand to her parents who earn a living from opening a shop that sells rice and curry near a tourist attraction area. “I sometimes help my parents at the shop. I am trying hard to help my parents to open a bigger shop that sells rice and curry with my cash award,” said May.

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At the academy a proper nutritious meal program is arranged for all the players. The Institute of Sports and Physical Education caters for three meals a day, seven days a week during the academic year. May also balances her sport practices and school work at the same time. “I try not to miss out my studies.”

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Friends are vital for May and football helps create a team spirit and helps her understand the power of teamwork. “My friends call me Thay Thay (meaning small) because I am so small. They love me very much.”

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May’s keepsake picture of her accepting the prize taken at the U14 Girls' Regional Championship for Southeast Asian zone 2015 in Vietnam.

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“My father plays football with me whenever I need someone to practice with.” One Goal partner World Vision also provided school materials, rice and a mosquito net for their family.

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May does her school work after 5:00 when she finishes her football training every day.

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May’s is the second youngest sibling among four and her father said she has made the family and the country proud of her.

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The first teacher who introduced May to football is her brother. Whenever her brother needs someone to play football with, she is the one ready and the one fortunate to be chosen to attend the football academy.

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All photos © 2015 World Vision


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