2018 MILO-FCB exposes young Filipinos to international football

MANILA, Philippines – MILO welcomed the return of the 10 young athletes who took part in a world-class football training in Barcelona, Spain as part of MILO and FC Barcelona’s (FCB) joint initiative, the MILO-FCB Road to Barcelona held at the FCB Youth Academy from November 4 to 12.

The children that made up the MILO Philippine team were: Lien Dale D. Manuel (Vicente Lim Elementary School), Alexander David C. Villarosa (University of San Jose-Recoletos), Breindel O. Medina (Ateneo De Davao Junior High School), Heaven Andrei N. Teodosio (Ilaya Barangka Integrated School of Mandaluyong City), Tristan Ybanez (Sacred Heart School Ateneo De Cebu), Juan Pablo S. Unlay (Ateneo De Manila), Dylan Theodore O. Wong (Keys School Manila), Carlo Antonio D. Bongocan (Rosevale School), Jelena Loren I. Soon (Singapore School Cebu), and Daniel Isaac N. Cagaanan (Koronadal Central Elementary School I). Each athlete was carefully selected by an expert panel composed of executives and coaches from MILO, the Cebu Football Association, and FCB Youth Academy in Cebu last September. (READ: Homegrown junior booters eye Europe berth)

The junior booters were immersed in a series of training sessions with FC Barcelona Youth Academy’s esteemed football coaches, both on the pitch at Ciutat Esportivo, the home of La Masia, FCB’s youth academy, and in the classroom at Camp Nou, together with delegates from Chile, Colombia, Jamaica, Malaysia, Maldives, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela.

The training sessions are based on the Barça methodology that includes a creative passing and attacking brand of football while underscoring the importance of positive values. The young footballers got to apply their learnings in a friendly match with the young players of Fundacion Marcet Football Academy

"When we played a match against Fundacion Marcet, we saw the kids actually played very well despite playing together as a team for the very first time," said MILO Philippines Consumer Marketing Manager Robbie de Vera on the 4-6 friendly loss by the Philippine delegation. 

The match was divided into four quarters where Marcet blanked Philippines in the first three periods before strikers Medina and Cagaanan rallied back to score four goals and win the final frame as the Spaniards only managed to fire two shots into the back of the net. 

Because of the success of the friendly match, MILO Philippines looks to include it in the program next editions of the Road to Barcelona. 

"We would also like to see from our global partnership with FCB, maybe a tournament type of set up may be interesting so at that point, we still don’t know what that progression is," added De Vera. 

The ultimate experience for these young athletes was their exclusive training with former Brazil and Barça player and legend, Juliano Belletti, as well as seeing their FC Barcelona idols in the flesh when they played versus Betis in a La Liga match.

“We are delighted to fulfill the dreams of these 10 talented football players who have not only shown us the right skills but also embody the values that MILO and FCB espouse, namely humility, effort, ambition, respect, and teamwork,” added De Vera.

“Seeing their faces light up with excitement from the moment they stepped foot in Camp Nou, to their interactions with coaches and fellow players from around the world has been a great honor to witness. We are happy to be a part of the journey that will hopefully inspire these kids and others to pursue their passions.”

A Treasured Experience

For the 10 deserving kids, the MILO-FCB Road to Barcelona was truly one of their most memorable trips in their athletic journey.

Lien Dale Manuel, 11, one of the MILO-FCB participants shares: "This was beyond my wildest dreams. I’ve always wished to be in the same football arena where my idol, Lionel Messi played. I am so glad it became a reality,” he said. “I have learned a lot of things and I can’t wait to share it to my teammates.”

Manuel is a member of the Tondo Futkaleros who is best known as the “junior coach” as he teaches basic football lessons to 4 to 5-year-olds in his Tondo neighborhood. With his skill, Manuel was recruited to play for the Ceres Negros Youth FC.

Daniel Cagaanan, a 12-year-old from Koronadal City Football Club shares: “MILO and FCB have helped me boost my confidence as a player. With the new football knowledge and the values I’ve learned, I will be able to train myself better in the future.”

John Soon, father of 11-year-old Jelena Loren Soon, expresses: “This is one of the most thrilling moments Jelly has ever experienced,” he said. “In this trip, I’ve seen Jelly progress into a well-rounded individual as she learned and developed her skills while exhibiting great sportsmanship among her peers. I am so proud to see Jelly come out of her shell. I am thankful to MILO for this initiative.”

Jelena is a member of the USPC Panthers FC and is part of the Cebu Elite Girls Team. (READ: No fear for Visayas' football girls– with reports from Beatrice Go/Rappler.com