Football brings Zamboanga girls closer to dreams
MANILA, Philippines - Sports are often played for recreational and health purposes. For 10 girls from Zamboanga City, however, playing football is more than these: It’s a way of achieving their dreams.
The Zamboanga City women’s team competed in the National Games organized by the Philippine Olympic Commission (POC) and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) from May 27 to 31, 2013.
The team was composed of 10 members and two coaches. They competed against football teams from the University of the Philippines, Miriam College, Ateneo de Manila University, and Baguio City Ladies.
Football for hope
The team is part of the football program of the Marine Corps, and they are trained by marine fighters turned coaches.
Rookie Nagtalon, advocate for the Football for Peace movement, said the team might not have won the tournament but they represent hope for Mindanao.
“Most kids in Mindanao grow up without a choice. They grow up learning how to use guns. These girls are good examples of how lives can be changed,” Nagtalon said.
Football for Peace is a movement that aims to bring hope to children from Sulu and other parts of Mindanao. It hopes to arm Mindanao kids with balls instead of bullets.
Nagtalon noted that the program had expanded since it started as a football clinic in 2011. More than a thousand kids from 8 municipalities are already part of the program.
Educating the future of Mindanao
The movement has 4 scholars. Two students from Sulu and two from Cotabato have been sent to school because of the program.
Zamboanga City football player Sharifa Mae was the first scholar of the program. She was sponsored by Asuncion Maria Faustmann, a great granddaughter of national hero Jose Rizal, who pledged to sponsor her up to college. (Read: Tausug girl dreams of becoming first ‘Maldita’ from Sulu)
Sharifa said that she is doing well in her academics although she’s still adjusting. “Minsan nahihirapan po pero marami na po ako natutunanan simula nung pumasok akong school,” Sharifa said. (Sometimes I have a hard time but I’ve really learned a lot since I entered school.)
Sharifa has dreams of being a certified public accountant (CPA). “Gusto ko lang po talaga magpasalamat kay Mrs Faustmann. Ang laki ng tulong niya sa akin,” she added. (I rreally want to thank Mrs Faustmann. She has helped me a lot.)
Nagtalon said that Sharifa is only one example of how Mindanao kids’ lives can change.
“We hope to get more kids involved especially the less privileged ones so it can be a better society with these kids having a choice,” Nagtalon noted.
Crossing borders to play
The team traveled via land from Zamboanga. It took them 3 days to get to Manila and compete in the tournament.
Coach Reynan Marzan said the girls’ passion for football is unwavering. “Kahit isa lang ang bola naming dala, ayos lang. Gusto talaga nila ito eh,” Marzan said. (Even if we only had one ball, it doesn’t matter. Playing football is really what the girls want.)
“Nag-rent lang kami ng van sa Zamboanga dahil kapos sa budget. Hindi nila iniinda yung pagod basta makapag-compete,” Marzan added. (We rented a van from Zamboanga because we lack the budget. The team did not mind the tiring travel. They really want to compete.)
Nagtalon noted that the team’s performance can be improved but their thirst to compete is unequalled. “They’re getting better. Of course… they’re still learning their ways on how to jive as a group. They’re coming to Manila… [and it] increases their experience,” Nagtalon said.
He further added that the teams’ exposure to other players will improve their game. “When they go back to Zamboanga, hopefully, they will practice what they saw,” Nagtalon said.
The football team left for Zamboanga City on Saturday, June 1. They are expected to arrive in their hometown by Monday evening, June 3. –Rappler.com