So this weekend has been really busy for football, but all in very positive ways. The last game of the inaugural Commonwealth Avenue Futsal League was played yesterday (Saturday, March 24) before four of our girls joined the National U14 tryouts for the AFC Qualifiers this June, to be held in Vietnam. Now, we’re just preparing the last things to bring 60 people from Payatas to watch the Philippines play against Cambodia.
So first, the Commonwealth Avenue Futsal League. The format for the season has been good and the teams have progressed well, especially with regular, nearby competition. There’s two divisions, the 12U division (mostly for boys) and the Mixed division (a mix of 12U girls and 10U boys to accommodate those teams who didn’t have enough girls).
Our mixed team went through the season undefeated, scoring the most and conceding the least, our MVP being Regine – an 11 year old girl who was the heart of the team and scored some spectacular goals. Our boys finished second in the league, losing 6-5 in the final match against the team who win it. We’re still missing a few key players for our 12U team but they did well and I’m pleased with their progress. Angelica often joined the boys playing too – the only girl in the whole 12U division – scoring in that last game against the eventual champions too.
Then, we’ve just got back from San Beda who were hosting the National U14 girls tryouts. We arrived just in time for the girls to put on their socks and football boots and join the rest of the teams. Jack Biantan and David Pallasigue of Pinoyfootball.com were waiting for us there to kindly pass on some donations to the players. Look out for their upcoming article in the website. A huge thanks to them from everyone at Payatas.
And so on the pitch, I recognised Nomads, Singapore School, Miriam College, and a couple of girls from Bacoor United. Joining the tryouts for Payatas FC were April Joy, 14, Angelica, 12, Regine, 11, and her younger sister Althea, 9.
Althea was clearly the youngest, but all four were always battling for the ball, never gave up, and were impressive during the final training drill of quick 5v5 skirmishes. Every time they got the ball they passed it around well, found space, passed again, and found more space. That was the most pleasing thing about how they were doing – they could always break down the other teams with passing and movement.
Despite three of them probably being the three youngest there, despite our fourteen year old not eating any breakfast as we found out (of course we fed them once the training was done :p), and despite the other players being stronger, taller, and more experienced, they more than held their own against probably the best young girls’ teams in Manila. So that was really pleasing.
Afterwards the coach asked us about one of the players, how old she was, and said she had potential. So there’s a possibility she’ll be called up later for the team so we’re hoping that’ll happen. Will post more details if she does make the cut.
And so now, after a quick, little rest, we’re preparing the kids to go to the Azkals v Cambodia match at the Rizal Memorial Stadium. Naomi’s been organising most of that and with 3 jeepneys rented, 60 people from Payatas, and 35 from our partner charity ASCF, there’s lots to do. Again a huge thanks to Kuya Dan Palami for making this happen for us 😀 I’m predicting 4-0 or 5-0 for the Philippines but for some of the kids this will be a moment they’ll never forget – as this will be the first time they have ever been out of Payatas.
It’s easy to forget sometimes how much football can mean to the kids and to Payatas FC. But whenever you see the kids run away screaming with joy because they’re gonna join a league match, or national try outs, or go out of Payatas for the first time in their young lives to watch the National team, you can start to see the opportunities it opens up.
For some of them it means the chance to stop working at the age of eight, to stop scavenging through garbage at a local junkshop or washing kilos of plastic all day to sell for pennies, and it gives them the chance to dream. For some of them, the opportunities for making the National team or becoming professional are starting to become real. My hope, is that Payatas FC will eventually be able to enter the local football league here, the UFL.
I’ve no doubt they have the potential, both the girls and the boys. And if we can get the facilities to train, I’ve no doubt they can achieve it with their drive, passion, and energy. So here’s to a bright future! Now we’re gonna go watch the Philippines win.
Pictures to follow.