Visits, trainings, and the need for our own Futsal court

Sod’s law: everything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

It’s very dangerous to assume things. What appears to be common sense for one person may be some kind of divine revelation to others. For example we started a Commonwealth Avenue Futsal League where teams play each other away and at home to help the development of the players on a weekly basis and compete against teams nearby. It should be a great league and a really good thing for the area. Yet if we lay out the plans and rules for having a separate boys and girls teams at several meetings, it might be useful to actually have some girls and not then tell everyone a week before it starts that actually you don’t have any girls for that girls’ team you signed up for. Likewise in a tournament for U15s, 16 and 17  year olds are obviously too old and doing that at every tournament in every age group is, in fact, cheating. Or if you ask to borrow someone’s futsal goals for a tournament as a favour, promise to return them in December, it might not be good to break promise after promise and still not have returned them by February – especially when you’re a very rich school with dedicated drivers and a huge budget, while the team you borrowed the goals from live at a dumpsite and scavenge for a living.

Today was another odd day where it seemed everything that could go wrong did go wrong. The barangay scheduled something at the court and so training wasn’t possible there. With no advance warning (I left my number with them a while back for them to let me know in advance as they said they’d text when there were schedules during our usual allotted time), we had arranged visitors for the day for the training . They were the Gierfriends group and had kindly brought down some gifts, travelling from very far away to see the area, meet the kids, and play football. They seemed to really enjoy playing football with the kids, getting to know them a bit, and the kids responded really well to them. That was the good part.

The barangay often do some good things at the local court, and it can really benefit the community. And so it didn’t seem so bad when they offered to transport us to a fairly close by basketball court. When we got there it was good – no basketballers to fight off, the staff there knew we were coming in advance and so we had the full court, no issues, and a lift there and, I assumed, back.

payatas fc trainingAfter the training, where the Gierfriends played football for possibly the first time ever for some of them, we follow up on the jeepney – assuming it’s coming back. Wala pa. No ETA or any knowledge of where it is even, it’s just a vague ‘it’s being used for something else’. Now the rest is nobody’s fault, but it just seems that whatever can go wrong does go wrong – whether it’s with kids, adults, or vehicles.

Eventually (2pm – two hours after our schedule) the jeep arrives which is good as there are 31 kids waiting who are obviously very hungry after waiting for hours. Then someone realises that there’s a flat tire due to low air, so they drive off and get some air pumped into it. As it returns, shortly after, the kids get on and two of us climb through the door window into the front as the door is broken. As we set off, the van stalls and won’t start any more… several tries but still nothing, it’s broken. Unsure of what’s going on it takes a little while and an Ambulance eventually comes for us (thanks to the quick response of the barangay here). The kids get down to transfer and then, as if it was mocking us, that first van starts!

So the normal schedule is 10-12 in the morning at Payatas. We finally got back at 3pm, from a court less than 15 minutes away – 3 hours, as everything that can go wrong, does go wrong.

The Potential of Payatas

Perhaps the most frustrating part is that I have no doubt that some of these kids, maybe just a few of them but some of them nonetheless, could do this professionally. Seeing how many of them spend their days, either skipping school to wash plastic to sell by the kilo, jump into garbage trucks to direct collect things to recycle, move from house to house as an eleven year old as they get kicked out by their drug addict relatives, the kids have stories that most of us, including myself, can’t really fully empathise with. There are some great people in Payatas, some great parents and great kids, but others aren’t so.

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For some of the kids, football is

the way to get back into school and it can provide a way out of poverty. We’re getting the third grading report cards of the kids’ education we sponsor back and some of the t

hem are top 5, top 4, top 2, and even top 1, in classes of 70-80 kids. They have the mentality, the street smarts, and increasingly the skill to be really good at this. For others, those who can’t make it professionally, it’s a stress reliever,

some fun with friends and maybe a break from work. It’s a childhood. For an eight year old who spends pretty much everyday looking for garbage to sell on for a few pesos, that means a lot.

There is no doubt in my mind the only way for them to reach their potential is with better facilities. Two trainings a week aren’t enough for the serious ones. The other training is Friday night which every week the local court seem to forget, which is probably why this is so frustrating. It’s been two years for Saturday mornings and a year for Friday nights, yet there are still cars, no lights

switched on, and about half an hour of arranging things before we get on. Every week.

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For some of them the sport is a way off the streets and back into education. For others it can be a way to get a livelihood. I’ll post about the updates for tryouts the kids have elsewhere as that grows, but there are good plans in that regard. To reach those opportunities, of which Payatas FC can really succeed, we need that place. Our place. A court where the kids can train and not have to wait the full day for basketball to finish before getting an hour or two of football.

Oh btw you can catch us on UNTV tomorrow (February 10) at 4pm on Sports 37 as they have a feature on us there. Thanks to them and everyone who continues to support us. Thanks to everyone we’re moving the drop-in centre to a bigger place and the education in the centre continues to grow. I’ll blog about that more later on so there are some great opportunities and developments happening.

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The two girls’ teams finished 1st and 3rd in our last tournament. They met each other in the Semi Finals.

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