Young Cambodian Lesbians’ Coming Out, With A Football Team Documentary

Yean Sokern, 19
Yean Sokern, 19

Their coach survived Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in the ’70s by feigning ignorance; the young girls dropped out from school because of discrimination.

Now, this all-lesbian football team wants to play.

This is ‘Iron Legs’, a documentary in the making, about a team of young girls who started playing football together. The filmmaker Vana Hem came across their stories through an introduction from a friend, a LGBT activist in Cambodia.

Still from 'Iron Legs' trailer
Still from ‘Iron Legs’ trailer

Ranging from the ages of 19 to 24, these girls faced discrimination from family and dropped out from schools, but found themselves playing on the field, and playing well.

They are coached by San Sovan, a Cambodian woman who survived the Khmer Rouge’s persecution of LGBT. She provides some of them with shelter and the means of livelihood with some carpentry work.

San Sovan, 56
San Sovan, 56

But this isn’t just a hobby, or a means to survival. The girls hope to play competitively, and hope to keep this legacy alive.

Watch ‘Iron Legs’ by Vanna Hem (Cambodia) on Viddsee BUZZ:

Subscribe to Viddsee

As the fundraising profile describes this, neither of these narratives has ever been documented in Cambodia.

As with the rest of the region, there are no laws that protect the LGBT community (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual) against discrimination, but Cambodia’s rulers have voiced support for their cause, and there been an annual Gay Pride since 2003.

The team at a district-level competition during an annual sports season
The team at a district-level competition during an annual sports season

‘Iron Legs’ is presented as an important documentation about LGBT cultural heritage, and also a positive story about friendship, budding relationships, and the joys of playing sports together.

Vana says: “Sovan and the other girls are not afraid. They’re glad to share their stories with the public.”

Fundraising Appeal for ‘Iron Legs’

Iron Legs ss9 krk

The ‘Iron Legs’ team need a post-production budget of EUR 5,000 to complete the documentary. Learn how you can contribute here.

Or watch Vanna’s other documentary ‘Lives Under The Red Light’, about the lives of sex workers in Phnom Penh.

Want more awesome stories?