Article published by the Philippines Daily Inquirer, June 8th.
They may not be regulation size but World Cup dreams can start here, where aspiring youths now have a better training ground and no longer have to kick the football into a propped-up kulambo (mosquito net).
Navotas City hopes to sow the seeds of soccer mania on its own turf by developing not just one but two pitches—a milestone in a city that doesn’t have a lot of real estate to spare.
The two football fields are located inside the Dagat-Dagatan and San Roque elementary schools, and serve as playground for a ragtag team of indigent boys who picked up the game from French missionaries.
“We Filipinos can truly excel in football where height is not necessarily an advantage. We will be offering the sport to our young people as part of our sports camps, which in turn aim to lead kids away from vices like illegal drugs,” Navotas Mayor John Reynald Tiangco - the football fan behind the whole project said.
The Thunderbolts were put together in 2012 by Elie Front, one of the French missionaries from Tahanang Puso(Heart’s Home Philippines), the local arm of a Catholic charitable organization based in France. The team members, the youngest at age 9, come from low-income households in Block 34, Dagat-Dagatan, Barangay North Bay Boulevard, where Tahanang Puso holds office. Front, who is also an amateur football player in France, then decided to spread his passion for the sport among the kids, who easily caught the soccer fever.
Gilbert Ponteras, 17, recalled: “Before, tumatambay lang kami (we were just bumming around), playing computer games, playing basketball.”
For Severine Dubois, another missionary who took over Front’s post in Dagat-Dagatan, the team still has a long way to go in the search for funding and sponsorship, but “having their own home turf now should make them realize that someone really cares for them. Maybe through this they can dream of something bigger not just for their game but also for their lives.”
To read the whole article in the Philippines Daily Inquirer website, click HERE