Payatas FC and Kasiglahan FC have been the two teams I’ve been coaching for about three months now and we were invited by Kuya Ed Formoso to join the Football for Good tournament. A little skeptical at first because of the short time the kids have been training I agreed to this as the kids were excited and wanted to join. So I joined the two teams together to form Mango FC for the boys and Mangga FC for the girls – Mango being the children’s home that many of the kids who play football live in, part of ASCF which Craig runs and I’ve volunteered with several times.
We’ve been practicing on converted basketball courts which has been great for the start but when the kids got there seeing a full 11 a-side pitch they were wowed and understandably initially scared. They settled in quickly though and we grabbed a tent at the far end near where we would be playing most of our games as they began to realise that the full pitch would be split into four pitches to play the 6 a-side games. In the week leading up to the tournament we had been invited to Corinthian Gardens to practice at the Azkals-Global Training School which trains 4-18 years olds. Ayi Nii Aryee who plays for Global and UP Diliman ( http://www.pinoyfootball.com/Features/2011Mar30Wed174601) and Coach Frank Muescan coaches Global and UP Diliman. Ayi’s invitation was followed up by Ricky Pe the Marketing Director who even kindly provided food for the players as they experienced their first training on an actual pitch so thanks again to everyone involved with that and if you want to learn or want your kids to learn you can still enroll them on the course to get the best coaching available! http://www.pinoyfootball.com/News/2011Apr12Tue185735
So back to the tournament and the kids were initially scared. The girls played first and they managed to organise well and didn’t give the opponents any chances, but they were struggling to pass to each other and mount an attack. Still, when the game finished 0-0 I was pleased as it was their first game – kids training for 3 months against kids training for several years.
The boys started their first game shortly afterwards and so I played 3 defenders, 1 midfielder and an attacker. The defensive line shut down their attack with the idea being when we had the ball one defender would join the attack. Geron, the boy from the Kasiglahan community, and James Carlo, from Mango, were my attack and they linked really well but the opponent’s defence was strong too. However when Christian the goalkeeper, from Mango, launched the ball upfield James managed to take on the defence and score with only a couple of minutes left. We all went crazy when he scored, our first game against another team and we were winning! Shortly after the ref blew the whistle and everyone went wild cheering! Not a bad start, a draw for the girls and a win for the boys 😀
After this, however, the girls lost their remaining six games. Initially just by one goal, which again was impressive considering the amount of training they’ve had, but then they played Tuloy sa Don Bosco girls – one of whom is touted to play for the Philippine women’s national team and she joined, with two other girls, the street child world cup team in South Africa in the Philippine ‘Miracle Team’ which won the Shield there…. so 5-0 :p Throughout though they tried their hardest and two of the girls actually only joined training for two days before so again they were great. In the girls’ last game they were drawing 0-0 until the last couple of minutes when the referee gave a free-kick. The rules said that free-kicks from a foul should be indirect so when their player scored directly I was confused why the referee gave a goal. Confusion very quickly turned to anger as I shouted to the ref to explain but he waved it away. The whistle blew a minute later for full-time and so immediately I went up to the ref asking what had happened – why he gave it. He wasn’t having any of it and said if I wanted to complain go do it, so I marched over with him to the organisers to clarify the rules – asking if it’s a foul then is the freekick indirect, their answer was yes and so I explained what had happened… eventually it became a case of it’s finished so can’t change it now but for the girls to lose a game that they shouldn’t have (even other coaches had sided with us saying it wasn’t a legitimate goal) was disappointing. Having said that, the referees generally were fantastic, including this referee, and the tournament itself was brilliant, it was just disappointing for the girls to lose a game which by rights they should have drawn.
As for the boys, they drew their next two games 0-0, the defence staying strong but Geron and James finding it difficult to break down the often stronger, taller and older defenders of the other teams. After lunch, they lost two games in a row and it seemed their morale was going down until the next game- probably my favourite game of the boys though it didn’t seem like it at first when they went 1-0 down. With about five minutes left Geron picked up the ball, took on a couple of defenders and scored, sending the whole team and the cheering girls crazy. A minute later Christian throws up the ball, their defence passes around but makes a mistake and James runs threw and pokes it past their defence to score! My best football moment ever! With everyone having huge smiles and cheering as they left the pitch they only had one game left but had already done themselves proud in a huge way! Their final game was like the girls’ final game in that I couldn’t contain my anger at times. Stephen is one of my defenders, 12 years old and he’s a small lad but with great heart and plays until he drops. A solid defender he’s got a lot of potential but doesn’t believe in himself enough, something I’m working on changing, little by little :p He was marking a lad taller than me, just under 6 foot if not six foot and he looked huge for someone supposedly 16 or recently 17 (as did the rest of their team). Well after the game Stephen still felt where their player had been pushing and shoving him for the whole 15 minutes, particularly his head and though the referee saw it on several occasions he didn’t manage to all the time – leaving us screaming at the player from the sidelines for bullying him. Their team won 2-0 and deserved to win, but the way their players were pushing round everyone wasn’t right… The shame of it is that they are very good footballers and if they worked together as a team they would have no need to bully smaller players to win, they could have a strong squad.
All in all, though, it was a huge success! For the boys a record of W2 D2 L3 is great for such a new team against bigger, older players who have years of experience. For the girls, they have learned a lot and will grow in training. They made a great account of themselves and should be really proud of themselves too. As for me, I love coaching 😀 I don’t think even playing I’ve celebrated as much as when the boys won and the girls tried their hardest. That may be because I know the stories of many of these kids, some of whom grew up on the streets, in cemeteries, were abused, neglected abandoned or orphaned and have had to fight for everything. Mango Tree House has given them the opportunity to study and to take control of their own lives and I’ve been so happy to be a part of that for a few years now. Check out this documentary for more info on how amazing the kids are: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOBU4NkK-CM
Now, we’re looking at clearing nearby land to practice on. Next tournament, I want the boys to challenge for the new division title as I believe they can! As for the girls, with the right training they can start to win some games and get their name out there. They want to be called the Puzzakals, kinda like the female version of the Azkals (the Philippine football team for those who don’t know) and so I’ve told them to earn the name – knowing they can do that. Til then we’ll be training weekly in Payatas and Montalban. It felt a bit weird at first when I was called coach, it’s always been Roy and I liked that. Now, I feel proud to be called coach by them, knowing the potential these kids have and hoping I can help them reach it!
That’s all for now, but I’ll have an article on pinoyfootball.com soon about the day’s events. If anyone wishes to help sponsor the team then please let me know as we can get really good media exposure and so far with the help of donors in England we’ve managed to get the training and maintenance done but I’ve been paying personally for the football kits etc. though I’m a student with no money who can’t benefit from media exposure. The kits were great though as we took a couple of the kids to Divisoria and managed to bargain to P2070 for 23 shirts, P1550 for 19 shorts and P1800 for 18 pairs of long football socks. With P1725 for the printing on each t-shirt (18 players, 5 staff) that brought the total to P7145 (Just over £100) for 18 full football kits printed with numbers and a few shirts for the staff. While that’s incredibly cheap for so many kits I have about £13 (P1000) left in my bank account… so if anyone wants articles about them sponsoring grassroots football in pinoyfootball.com and other football websites, newspapers and their name on the football kits where my kids play getting national tv exposure then just let me know 😀
Thanks to everyone who sent good luck messages and have helped the team so far! While I’ve been the main coach Craig Burrows, Mark Ypon, Jacques Palami, Mae Villagomez and Dee have all come on several occasions and helped out in different ways. With a couple of people interested in helping coach regularly if we can get the facilities done this should be great. I’ll update you on how making that pitch turns out with photos!! 😀 Til then, take care all!