Discipline, teamwork, acceptance: why football is a lifeline for queer Cambodian teens.

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06/27/2022

As a teenager Lorn “Leak” Sreyleak looked forward to playing football every week with friends in his home town of Kampong Chhnang. But the 15-year-old couldn’t help but envy another team that sometimes practised on an adjacent pitch. Led by a gruff coach affectionately called “Pa Vann”, or Dad, some of the players reminded Leak of himself: although he was born biologically female, Leak had known since childhood that he was a boy. The other footballers “seemed happy”, recalls Leak, who is now 25 and lives in Phnom Penh. “They could do what they wanted to do. They had freedom.”

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