MANILA, Philippines – “I am somebody!”
That is the battle cry every street child wishes to make when the 2nd edition of the Street Child World Cup kicks off on March 28 in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
Nineteen countries from all over the world will showcase their talents in the Street Child World Cup, which started in 2010 in South Africa. In cooperation with Save The Children and various charities worldwide, the event is done ahead of every FIFA World Cup, aiming to change the negative perceptions of people on millions of street children worldwide.
The Philippines’ boys and girls squads, which are composed of 9 members aged 14-16 each, trained as early as February this year along with UFL squad Socceroo and members of the 2010 team. Just last week, the teams also played tuneup matches against the University of the Philippines’ varsity football teams.
More games against UFL academy squads and university teams are lined up to further boost their competitiveness.
Rising from adversity
Each street child has their own story, just like millions of Filipino street children who are struggling to survive in their daily lives.
Some members of the squads were orphaned or born in cemeteries; others dropped out of school to support their families, while others scavenged for trash.
But with the help of AgriNurture, INC and Witsenburg Nature products, European-based companies, the girls team were able to get a lift. Communications provider Globe also sponsored their kits while replica kits are available for 600 pesos with the proceeds all going to the two teams. The boys squad meanwhile are still looking for a chief backer.
As of posting time, Team Philippines has successfully raised 120,000 pesos too, according to a Facebook post by head coach Roy Moore.
Proceeds after the competition will still be used for long-term projects, in cooperation with local charities and organizations.
The full rosters were announced last March 13 in a press conference in Quezon City. Under child protection policies, only the first names of the children are unveiled:
Aldrin (Gawad Kalinga)
Kenneth (Gawad Kalinga)
Mackie (Gawad Kalinga)
Tyrone (Gawad Kalinga)
Ronald (FC Leveriza)
Mark Joseph (FC Leveriza)
Benjamin Baco Jr. (FC Leveriza)
Raven (Haven for Children)
Ronalyn (Payatas FC)
Angelica (Payatas FC)
April Joy (Payatas FC)
Yanzie (Gawad Kalinga)
Agot (SOS Village Davao)
Joy (SOS Village Davao)
Mayleene (SOS Village Davao)
Juvie Lyn (Josie’s Angels)*
In the draw held on March 18 in Rio, the boys landed in Group 2 with Tanzania, Burundi, Argentina, and Nicaragua.
Group 1 is composed of South Africa, Liberia, Egypt, Brazil, and Indonesia while Mauritius, Kenya, defending champions India, Pakistan are in Group 3.
In the girls division, PH also landed in Group 2 with El Salvador and South Africa. The rest of the field includes Indonesia, Brazil, and Zimbabwe in Group 1 and Mozambique, England, and Nicaragua in Group 3.
Head coach Roy Moore expects a tough battle judging from the draw results.
“The groupings look very interesting; for the boys we’re against two African teams so they’ll be strong and quick. These countries have a much deeper tradition of football but we are optimistic,” he said.
“We’ll need to win the group to progress but we have a good squad and we’re very happy with the team and how they’ve been playing of late against the varsity teams here.”
The first match kicks off on March 30.
PH teams will fly for Brazil on March 27, carrying the hope that no matter where they came from or what their backgrounds are, they could all be somebody. – Rappler.com with reports from Levi Verora