Anna, 14, loves football and wants to be a football player more than anything.
Anna is from a mixed ethnic background from Myanmar. She doesn’t know why her mother decided to emigrate to Thailand – it’s not something they talk about in the family. Hundreds of thousands of people from minority groups in Myanmar have fled violence and economic hardship for decades, many settling permanently in Thailand.
“Nothing much happens here,” Anna says. “It is safe to stay here.”
Anna goes to a Christian school and she lives with her mother and sister inside the school compound. She meets Thai people, but don’t speak the language and all her friends have a Myanmar background.
She has loved football since she was small, and loves to watch matches on TV.
“When Ronaldo and other players play football, I feel inspired,” Anna says. “When I see them playing, I feel energised and I want to play like them, but there is no one to teach me.”
She is often met with scepticism when she says she wants to be a football player.
“Sometimes I feel depressed, when people tell me that I can’t be a footballer. People my age don’t tell me things like that, only older people, teachers too. I want to talk back to them, but since they are older, I just put up with them. And I just keep playing football.”
“You know, every child has their own ambitions. And when it comes to sport, there is no man or woman, boy or girl, everyone can play.”
Anna and her sister don’t have official documents from Myanmar or Thailand, so they have no official status in either country. Since they are young, they can still show their birth certificates if asked, but their mother Joy* is worried about them not receiving medical treatment if they get ill.
Anna’s school is part of a non-formal education system for migrants, but if she wants to continue to study, she needs the right documents from the Thai authorities.
“I will finish my education,” Anna says. “And whatever happens along the way, I will not be depressed, I will face all of the obstacles. I will try. And I will try to get the skills a footballer needs.”
*Name has been changed.