PH girls rise from bottom to Street Child World Cup finals

Many of the area's locals had become interested in football, prompting Moore to initiate Payatas FC as a way to connect with the population.

When Moore held his first practice on a barangay basketball court, 80 children from around the area joined him for the tutorial. He knew he had something special going. That prompted him to form the Fairplay for All Foundation in 2011 alongside Naomi Tomlinson.

"Everything else has grown pretty organically since then," said Moore.

The Payatas FC girls squad has enjoyed success domestically, winning the Mondo Cup and Pinay Futbol Invitational Cup against better-financed teams.

Road to Rio

In 2013, FairPlay began holding tryouts to merge teams to travel to Brazil. Three members of Team Payatas - Angelica, Ronalyn, and April Joy - made the team, followed by Agot, Joy, and Maylene of SOS Village Davao, Crystal of Mango Tree House, Juvie Lynn of Kids International Ministries and Yanzie of Gawad Kalinga. 

Due to child protection laws, their surnames have been withheld.

They gained experience and confidence training in Taguig alongside the United Football League's Team Socceroo FC, plus scrimmaging against the University of the Philippines' varsity squads.

Roy Moore and the girls prepare for kickoff against Mozambique. Photo from press release

Roy Moore and the girls prepare for kickoff against Mozambique.

Photo from press release

The venture isn't cheap though, but European companies AgriNurture, INC and Witsenburg Nature products have helped sponsor the girls club. The boys are still in search of a primary sponsor.

After the World Cup, the players will resume play with their respective teams. "Hopefully we can form a girls' team for next year's UFL with most of these players," said Moore. "Some of the girls will almost certainly get a University scholarship through football. One will tryout with the under-14 national team when she gets back."

Regardless of how their fortunes turn out, Team Philippines has already grabbed the attention of their compatriots. They are no longer invisible, and have stretched the boundaries of what the youth of the Philippines can accomplish. They are somebodies, they matter. They inspire because they aspire.

"The experience has been great to show them how good they can be with the right attitude and when they work as a team," said Moore. "The hope is that they now have a lot to take back to their communities to help become leaders and teach others back home." - Rappler.com 

Ryan Songalia

 

Ryan Songalia is the sports editor of Rappler, a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and a contributor to The Ring magazine. He can be reached at ryan@ryansongalia.com. An archive of his work can be found at ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.