Regine, a girl born and raised in Payatas (one of the biggest and poorest slums in the Philippines), has made it to the Philippine National Football Team. Joining the 18-girl squad for the U14 AFC Regional Championships, Regine and the rest of the Philippine team will face group hosts Vietnam on the 23rd, Singapore on the 24th, and Malaysia on the 25th June.
Payatas is most renowned for being the home of the largest dumpsite in the Philippines, and it is also home to up to 500,000 people who typically live off the garbage industry through scavenging. But slowly the reputation is changing as more and more gems like Regine are uncovered and people begin to realise the true potential in Payatas.
Trained by Payatas FC, of the Fairplay for All Foundation (FFA), Regine quickly stood out not just in the girls division but for any player in her age category. A natural attacker, she combined well with her younger sister to pass through any boys in their way.
On the same weekend when she was 11 years old, she won the MVP award for a boys U12 tournament and a boys U14 tournament. She would have joined Team Philippines for the Street Child World Cup also, but was too young for the competition. Later she joined Kaya’s Academy for the U17 girls, playing in the UFL Youth League’s U17 Girls Division at 12 years old. Now at 13, Regine has shown she has the ability to be one of the top female players in the country by making it to the final 18 of the Philippines U14 Girls.
You can check out some of Regine’s moves in this video of Payatas FC celebrating the team’s 4th year in Payatas. She’s the girl in red scoring goals from 2:45 onwards.
The U14 Philippine Girls surprised ASEAN last year when they won silver. Another girl from Payatas FC, Angelica, had been invited to join the National team but was homesick and dropped out of the training camp of 32 girls in 2012 and felt she couldn’t join in 2013.
For such young girls, these feelings are entirely normal. Not least when you consider the difficult backgrounds many such players are coming from. However it also shows the huge potential of Payatas with girls invited to the National team in each of the last 3 years, and strong potentials for the next few years too.
The boys are doing well also with 10 players in all previously part of Kaya’s Academy. Distance and transport costs proved difficult to maintain, as Payatas is far from any football field. Payatas FC, though, were featured in the past by FIFA, by the major local channels, and in an upcoming CNN Philippines feature.
A Home for Payatas FC
There is so much potential in the area for grassroots development. Payatas FC has shown it’s producing great players, despite training on a basketball court barefoot once or twice a week, with 60-80 players at each practice.
Regularly the team have been kicked off the barangay’s basketball court by older basketballers, schedules have been ignored, and when the team does get to practice it’s not very regularly or for very long. This prevents us from breaking down the kids into age groups and providing more advanced trainings. So given all the limitations, including malnourishment which often sees Payatas FC players only half as tall as some of their opponents, the kids are doing brilliantly. Imagine how much better the players and development can be if we have our own futsal court.
And this is FFA’s dream for 2015, to complete the purchase of nearby titled land in Payatas to build a futsal court. Our own futsal court will mean we won’t lose so many kids in training, as they get used to the drills. It means we won’t lose the older kids who find something for their age group. And it means we won’t lose all that potential that is clearly here. If we’re producing players good enough for National Youth Teams with what we’re doing right now, how much better will the players get with our own futsal court and professional training?
Build a Home for Payatas FC
To this end, you can now you can join the Payatas FC Supporter’s Club to help build a home for Payatas FC. All it takes is a P1,000 donation and you will net your own:
- 2015/2016 Season Payatas FC jersey (sponsored by StraightArrow, a local marketing company)
- Polvoron and other home-made goodies from FFA’s urban farm
- And exclusively for those who pre-order by July 31, a Team Philippines jersey from the Street Child World Cup (while stocks last).
Everyone who pre-orders by July 31 will also be entered into a raffle to win one of three Waka Wakas, a solar powered torch and power bank that can charge your smartphone on the go, worth P3,500 each. Courtesy of Witsenburg Natural Products.
So it’s a great opportunity to help build a home for Payatas FC, whilst giving yourself a chance to win some great prizes too. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how you can be part of the Payatas FC Supporter’s Club and proudly support grassroots football in Payatas and the Philippines.
*Last names of minors have been withheld as a child protection policy