One of the things that I’ve been doing a lot lately is running the football clubs in poor areas, particularly Payatas and Kasiglahan. While some may say football doesn’t change lives, doesn’t break the poverty cycle, what it does do is offer a platform to promote the values that do – hence, our motto for Fairplay for All is Fairplay on and off the pitch. The football for Good tournament is a tournament that happens roughly every 2-3 months for real grassroots football. It’s been going for years, well before the popular explosion of football in the Philippines and is run by Kuya Ed Formoso, a great guy who has given a lot for the beautiful game and particularly helping poor kids into it and into school through it.
So in the lead up to the tournament the kids had extra training sessions (an extra one on Sundays for the selected players only – Saturdays anyone and everyone can play for fun). A fair bit of info has been spread about them and mostly through word of mouth many in the community have heard of Payatas FC who are showing how it doesn’t matter where you are born, how rich your parents are or what your background is – if you’re given the opportunity you can shine. Football provides a level playing field where it doesn’t matter about all those things – skill, hard-work and cooperation determine the result.
So, in this vein we are ready to compete against other teams after six months of training. The kids from Payatas live next to the biggest rubbish dump in Manila where tens of thousands of other people live, mostly scavenging through the rubbish there for something to sell, recycle or even eat. With a lack of education and often malnourished the people there continue to show great creativity and ingenuity but a poverty trap remains. Football by itself doesn’t offer the way out, but it offers a start: it offers something to organise and show how much these kids and people can achieve when given the chance.
Tomorrow we will compete in the Football for Good tournament – the first official competition Payatas FC will play in.
From 9am onwards they’ll play in a division of 16 teams and hopefully we’ll win most of those games :p I’m nervous, excited and should probably be going to sleep right now as I’m up at 4am but this is gonna be a great day. So if you’re interested in seeing real grassroots football head down to La Salle, Greenhills, throughout the day to see that and cheer on all the teams. Thanks go to some great people who help sponsor us including Hasik, Tita Nellie Mpayos, Cynthia Moralez, and also Jeff Yap whose company Big Six Inc. kindly made some fantastic uniforms modeled by myself today but the kids tomorrow! If you’re after some quality kits and shirts they’re definitely the place to go! Thanks again to everyone and hope to see you all there tomorrow!!! 😀