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Hong Kong: Football for All in Vietnam (FFAV), Shell Qatar and Nguyen Hoang Phuong from Vietnam were presented with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Dream Asia Awards 2017 today in Hong Kong. The award ceremony took place in conjunction with the AFC – Premier League Football Social Development Conference 2017.

The annual AFC Dream Asia Awards are presented in three categories - corporate, non-governmental organisation (NGO) and individual – and they recognise and honour those who have shown exemplary commitment towards social development using football as an agent for change.

The awards were handed to the winners by AFC General Secretary Dato’ Windsor John, Premier League Executive Chairman Richard Scudamore and the Chairman of the AFC Social Responsibility Committee, Ahmed Eid S. Al Harbi.

AFC General Secretary Dato’ Windsor said: “We have been delighted at not only the quality of the entries but also – and more importantly - the extremely important work which is going on across Asia in the field of Football for Social Development.

“The AFC has included undertaking effective social responsibility campaigns to improve the lives of people of the Continent as part of our AFC Vision and Mission, and it is fulfilling to see that so many, including our worthy winners, are contributing so much to society.”

Ahmed Eid added: “As Chairman of the AFC Social Responsibility Committee, we work hard to encourage not only the AFC but also individuals, businesses and NGOs to contribute to society using football as a power for good.

“Through our AFC Dream Asia Awards and the AFC Dream Asia Foundation, which was announced by the AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa in March, we will look to encourage and support all our winners.”

FFAV, the winner of the AFC Dream Asia Award 2017 in the NGO category, aims to provide access to football for all. FFAV is a partnership organisation which develops grassroots football programmes across Vietnam. Widening participation by encouraging more girls to play, and involving disabled children and other groups which have previously been excluded, FFAV uses football as a platform to teach children important life skills.

These include education in issues such as HIV/AIDS, personal hygiene and sanitation, communication skills and traffic safety. Awareness of Explosive Remnants of War, such as landmines, is also an important topic in some regions of the country, addressed through football.

Shell Qatar’s Koora Time is a nation-wide initiative to improve the health and well-being of young people in Qatar through football, the most popular sport in the country, and it is the winner of the AFC Dream Asia Award 2017 in the corporate category.

Football has proved an effective way of achieving fitness and managing health in Qatar. A community-based initiative, Koora Time uses football as a platform to promote a healthy and active lifestyle. It provides school children more hours of physical activity and more opportunities and spaces to play. The participant ratio is split equally between boys and girls. Koora Time is unique as the only football education programme in Qatar.

Nguyen Hoang Phuong the winner of the 2017 Dream Asia Award in the individual category, has been a strong advocate for accessible, inclusive football in Vietnam since 2001. He has an impressive record on grassroots football development.

Nguyen was instrumental in securing the support of the Vietnam Ministry of Education and Training for the development of grassroots football in schools across the country. His programme to widen participation has been run in Laos and a football programme for refugees has taken place on the Myanmar-Thailand border.

Nguyen has contributed to the empowerment and engagement of girls and women around the country in football, a sport that has traditionally been regarded as being only for men.

He also developed an alternative, motivational learning model through football, which has been adopted by the Ministry of Education and Training for national use. The model has also been adapted to other fields such as Mathematics, Art and English.

Photo: Getty Images