It’s been a while since my last post. Over a year I think, nearly two. Part of the reason I’ve not updated my blog is that we’ve been really busy at the foundation and things have grown a lot, part of it has been writing elsewhere and now being an accredited football journalist, and part of it is laziness, the latter of which probably account for the biggest chunk :p
But things have grown a lot. Since starting Payatas FC February, 2011, the football team at the Payatas Dumpsite, we have won 7 tournaments and reached the Semi Finals in most of the others. Most recently we entered two teams in the 1st ever Pinay Futbol Invitational Cup and finished 1st and 3rd (the two teams met in the Semi Finals). The players are obviously improving but importantly their attitudes and behaviour are too. Below is the picture of the girls after with their trophy. Nina also won best goalkeeper and Crystal was MVP (she has an amazing story from being born in a cemetery and growing up there to studying well and living at Mango Tree House (the children’s home of our partner charity) and now captaining the girls’ U16 team with us too:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IDUtdv4jBQ).
(Photo courtesy of Pinay Futbol)
As a good example of their attitudes and the discipline, we are one of the founders of the Commonwealth Avenue Futsal League whereby there is a 12 and under division and a mixed division for 12 and under girls and 10 and under boys. Just before the league six players stole football boots/jerseys from us and so are now banned from the team pending an improvement in their attitude (already noticed to be fair) and higher grades at school (report cards to be released within a month). Three of those players were eligible for the league, including our best defender and our top scorer… it’s a shame but I know it’s better for their futures if they can sort that attitude out now rather than later. Our 12U team lost their opening two games as a result – but better to lose with a team of deserving kids then win with a bad attitude. To illustrate the difference and how I know they’d be doing much better, our mixed team (with a full squad) is top of their league by contrast.
Yet the team has grown from fights every week, swearing every week, being incredibly disorgansied and disrespectful every week from almost two years ago, to a great example of what the kids can achieve when given the opportunity. I think that a lot of it comes down to believing in themselves. The kids aren’t really used to people believing in them, saying they can achieve something, but they have so much to give and can accomplish so much – on and off the pitch. In terms of football, they never give up, will always work hard, and their technical ability is catching up to their physical and mental traits. They’re both well organised and decent at passing and shooting now.
However we’ve hit some major problems. Our biggest problem is that while the kids want to train every hour of the day they’re not in school, we have no place. There is one basketball court in our area of Payatas, and it’s available at most twice a week for us to train on. With more than 50 regular kids each week during the two training sessions (plus more with the girls from Kasiglahan) it’s simply not enough. A basketball league just started and they decided it’d be a great idea to take up everyone else’s time too, to try and schedule the whole of Saturday and Sunday despite knowing our Saturday morning training times (for almost the last two years). They’re the same basketballers who would ignore us when we even had a permit from the barangay and keep playing during our scheduled time.
Basketball is a good sport and I enjoyed playing it at school – as part of our High School team. We were pretty decent too for our area and country (England is naff at basketball). And it’s not an argument about which sport is better, they’re both good for kids… both get them fit and healthy, give them something to do and when done well can be a great influence on their characters and other aspects of their lives.
At the barangay’s court the time we’re able to get is simply not enough for the kids and their development will stall if they don’t get that time. We have some great young players who I honestly believe could become part of the Semi Pro league here and a couple of the boys and the girls even have the potential to represent the National Team in the future.
So here’s my hopes for 2013. This blog post has been more of a rant, an organisation of my thoughts, and to that self-indulgent end I’m gonna write about what I want to happen this year. It’s painfully clear that the team will not develop and reach it’s full potential relying on the barangay basketball court and fighting for a couple of hours every week in amongst a full weekend’s schedule of basketball. The charity’s drop in centre has also outgrown our current house and needs a bigger area. We’re moving to a bigger house which will help that for the short-term but for the long-term we need a futsal court for the kids to practice each day. On top of that a floor of classrooms and offices can be built for the education program (which currently sponsors 20 kids’ education and is expanding each month as sponsors come in). Yet that’s a big project, in amongst the other plans of starting urban farming on the roof of such a compound. It’s a big investment, but one I know can reap good rewards.
So here’s to the new year. 2013. And the hope that we can build a futsal court, a 5 a side concrete building for Payatas FC this year. With even this some of the kids will not only improve immensely, but many can very well gain football scholarships to Universities, other opportunities as coaches and referees, and ultimately reach my goal for the team of becoming an established Semi-Pro team in the Philippines generating it’s own income and becoming self-sufficient. I don’t have any money as a student (doing my master’s at UP Diliman). Nor do most of the people I know. Yet I know there are opportunities out there and people/companies/investment groups who will benefit from this in the long term. And hey if you guys know anyone please do get in touch. Either comment below and I’ll get back to you or email the charity at email@example.com to find out more about what we do and how you can help.
The charity keeps growing and is helping some kids back into school, some stay in school (many of our kids have become top 10, top 5 and even top 1, in amongst classes of 60-80 kids per class). The area can yield huge rewards with a well done urban farming program too. And in football, Payatas FC has the potential to become it’s own team and create a big pool of players for the UFL and the National Team. With the right management this can become the biggest source of income for the charity which would fund most of our social work and make us largely self-sustainable. However without our own pitch that will never happen.
Here’s hoping 2013 will be a great year for some serious facilities, investment, and our own pitch that will enable us to become one of the best youth teams in Manila.