Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Final Try Outs Concluded Ahead of Selection for Team Philippines in the Street Child World Cup

All the tryout hopefuls in a group photo-op.
(Photo courtesy of Fairplay For All Foundation/Mark Cristino)
Team Philippines are on the Road to Rio as the final try outs concluded at The Camp early afternoon yesterday. With tournaments held throughout 2013, players from 6 different organizations in Manila were short-listed, with tryouts in Davao unearthing several other talents.

Around 30 players from Gawad Kalinga, Josie's Angels, Haven, FC Leveriza, Mango Tree House, and Payatas FC made the cut for the final tryouts, which had seen 500 players in total join. With Team Coach and Organizer Roy Moore leading the tryouts, he was joined by Team Philippines 2010 captain Erica Mae Inocencio and her teammate Roberto Orlandez Jr as well as Team Socceroo captain Enzo Pinga, whose team just held UFL league leaders Loyola Meralco Sparks to a 3-3 draw.

The final selection of the nine boys and nine girls to make up Team Philippines will be made next week, with the announcement to follow at a specific press conference, scheduled for the third week of February.

Street Child World Cup: I am Somebody

The Street Child World Cup itself will be held at the beginning of March this year. For a two week period Team Philippines will fly out to Rio De Janeiro to compete against over 20 countries while also raising awareness of the plight of street children across the world.

Team Coach and Organizer Roy Moore called attention to how "Internationally street children are dehumanised and degraded, called 'insects', 'the plague', 'children of slaves', and more besides as society forgets and ignores these children. What attracted me to this kind of work is realising how these children were put in this situation throughout no fault of their own; many of them were born on the streets, or their parents died or abused them, and in most cases society has tried to hide them away. We could have been born into their situation but we were born into families with a home, no matter how small, and where we didn't have to worry about the next meal or work as children in order to survive. That's why I see it as our responsibility to help".

For 2014 the Street Child World Cup's theme is "I am Somebody", reinforcing the point that every street child is a human being with a unique story of how they got where they are. For some of the children competing their story was being orphaned at a young age and having to fight for survival on the streets. Others were born in cemeteries and raised inside the graves, while others ran away from abusive homes and with nowhere safe to go, they ended up sleeping and living on the streets.

One of the girls trying out is 17 year old Crystal, who grew up in a cemetery in Manila with other street families. Her story was featured by the Street Child World Cup international team and is online here:

What Football Means to These Kids

Yet football offers hope. For many of the children it gave an environment where the kids could be kids again, have fun and play. More than that, being part of a team and seeing what they can achieve with the right attitude and determination has given the children back their ability to dream. With football exploding in the Philippines many of the players will be part of the UFL Youth League next month, while others are being scouted for the men's and women's national team youth levels. After being part of the team in 2010, Roberto won a University scholarship to La Salle and currently trains with the U21 National team. For many of the players trying out in 2014, there is an even greater potential to find a livelihood and a home in football.

Typhoon Yolanda Affected Tryouts

An unfortunate part of the process was that Typhoon Yolanda affected the tryouts. With trips to Iloilo and Cebu cancelled due to the disaster it put a dent in the plans for Team Philippines in the Street Child World Cup. "After the typhoon all of the focus and funding suddenly switched to Tacloban and other affected areas" Moore said. "It was understandable as this was the biggest disaster to hit for a long time and so many people needed immediate help. It did make things difficult though as potential sponsors suddenly switched elsewhere and we couldn't travel to others areas as they were now emergency zones, too busy helping the rebuilding efforts, and for lack of funding." Three girls from Davao, though, have been invited to join the team after scouting in that province became possible.

Fortunately now the team is almost there with the fundraising effort. Witsenburg, a Dutch company involved in the Philippine coconut industry (, sponsored the tryouts while the girls team have a confirmed main sponsor. Team Philippines are in advanced talks with other suitors to sponsor the boys, while supporters' kits, including a team kit and wristband will soon be available to the public for a P1,000 donation.

So after successful tryouts out at The Camp in Taguig, and with great help from people from all backgrounds and sectors of society, Team Philippines is well and truly on the Road to Rio for the 2014 Street Child World Cup.

Official Press Release courtesy of Fairplay For All Foundation.

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