Ilonggos kids can become football greats

By Marie Katherine Villalon

The football field of Sta. Barbara, Iloilo was filled with close to 2,000 children and teenagers last March 8 and 9, 2014. There was a varied display of faces. Some bore triumphant smiles after they scored a goal. Some were intent on listening to their coaches. Some had eager faces as they waited for their chance to kick a ball. All of them were sweaty but happy as they represented their schools during the Football Para sa Bayan 2014 program of Globe Telecom.
Future champions

 Football Para sa Bayan is a grassroots program for the youth from underprivileged communities and serves as an inclusive platform for socially advantaged and less advantaged teams to interact and work together, Globe shared in its press release.

“Our objective is to bridge the gap. Whatever social sector they are in, hindi ‘to nakikita ng bata. We want to keep it that way,” said Miguel Bermudo, senior specialist, Corporate Social Responsibility Division of Globe during the press conference in Sta. Barbara.

He was joined by no less than Philippine Azkals player and Ilonggo pride, Chieffy Caligdong and Kent Gobuyan, manager of the Sta. Barbara Football Club.

“The project was first implemented in Barotac Nuevo in 2013. It is Globe’s advocacy for underprivileged kids in private and public schools. It aims to teach kids the basics of football so they could become potential players of their towns. We can create local athletes who will play for big universities someday,” Caligdong said.

He added that Iloilo is still the number one producer of football greats. In fact, football players from Sta. Barbara play for the Philippine Navy while those from Barotac Nuevo play for the Air Force and Army. Caligdong played for the Philippine Air Force.

Chieffy Caligdong signs the participants’ jerseys
“We are happy with the local government units’ support. I am also happy that parents push their children to play football. Through this, we can produce athletes for the national team,” he said.

Sta. Barbara, for one, holds a free football clinic every Saturday, from 7 am to 9 am and those interested can just go there, said Gobuyan. “We also tap neighboring towns to get involved. So far, we have trained 200 kids. We have volunteer coaches. Our benefactors live abroad. We also tap the LGU if we have a program,” he said.

Caligdong said, by the age of six years old, a child needs to know the basics of football so that they will easily adapt to the rules of the game.

“As a mother, I feel it’s a good venue for kids because they can develop their talents, learn sportsmanship and build camaraderie,” said Regine Algecera, mother of one of the participants.

Indeed, if you want to raise achievers, you have to start them young. A child taught a skill early would bring this ability with him when he grows older. Blessed are the children who have received such guidance from adults around them, including organizations such as Globe Telecom.

Apart from training the youth, Globe Telecom will hold a coaching workshop for football coaches on April. “This will further help the clubs. We will also give them equipment,” he said.

Globe plans to bring this to Cotabato, Mindanao after their stint in Benguet this year. “We will keep growing,” he assured.

Chieffy Caligdong and Miguel Bermudo with Iloilo media and bloggers.

Chieffy Caligdong was seen with a brace on his right leg during the Football Para sa Bayan 2014. He said that after he heals in two weeks, he would return to his training with the Azkals.

“We have a training camp in Pakistan and Bahrain. Then we go to Maldives until the finish of the AFC Challenge Cup,” he said.

The AFC Challenge cup is on May 19-30 with eight teams participating.  

The Philippine Azkals will be playing under a new coach, Thomas Dooley, a German-American who replaced former coach Michael Weis.

Caligdong assured Filipinos that the team tries it best to give the country good results. “We need the full support of the Filipino people wherever we go,” he concluded./ 
Left photo: The writer with Chieffy Caligdong. Right photo: The writer with Globe Telecom’s Marigold Endriga, 
PR Works’ Mafe Barcelo and Cable Star’s Regine Algecera.

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