MANILA, Philippines – The Azkals support Balls for Peace, a youth program led by the Philippine Marine Corps to promote football among kids in Sulu.
When Major Stephen Cabanlet first started teaching football to kids in Sulu with his fellow Marines, he did not have enough resources.
Rappler learns about the football program in the war-torn island and startS a partnership with the Philippine Marine Corps.
The goal: collect 2000 balls for the young athletes of Football for Peace.
Philippine Azkals Team Manager Dan Palami first heard of Balls for Peace through Rappler. Now the Philippine Football Federation wants to help.
DAN PALAMI, AZKALS TEAM MANAGER: Anything about football always perks up my interest. I looked at it, I looked up the link and I was quite surprised that our Philippine Marines had this initiative to use football for the peace process in Mindanao…If we could help some more, then let’s just do it. That’s how the Azkals started.
The PFF pledges 200 balls, and donated 50 so far. It also plans to help in bigger ways.
In the future, they want to sponsor scholarships to deserving kids, build a field in Abu Sayyaf territory, and send some Azkals to train the Sulu youth.
Azkals co-captain Chieffy Caligdong supports the cause.
So far, the Marines receive 950 footballs.
They are nearing their goal of 2000 balls, as well as bigger dreams: Promoting peace through football among the youth in Mindanao.
And who knows, the first Azkal from Sulu.
Natashya Gutierrez, Rappler, Manila.