• July 12, 2014

Philippines: Navotas boys
finally have field of soccer dreams

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

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