As part of its grassroots development program, the Philippine Marine Corps will be staging the annual Football for Peace (FFP) from April 23 to 29 in Metro Manila.
This year, the Marines have partnered with One Meralco Foundation (OMF) and Loyola Meralco Sparks (LMS) FC. The advocacy aims to instill the peace-loving values of sportsmanship, camaraderie, teamwork and discipline among children particularly those residing in conflict areas in Mindanao. “We made this project aspirational. We want the kids get to play as a way to better themselves,” said Rookie Nagtalon, co-founder of FFP.
More than 200 children from Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Basilan, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, Misamis, Lanao del Sur, Pagadian, Bohol and Palawan will be participating in the festival. The children will undertake a series of activities among them visits to factories, educational institutions, historical landmarks and science museums. By the end of the festival, participants will be grouped into teams that will compete with various football clubs from Metro Manila and other nearby provinces in Luzon.
The exhibition games will be held at the football field of the Philippine Marine Corps general headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. The children will also undergo a football clinic sponsored by One Meralco Foundation and will be facilitated by the Loyola Meralco Sparks on April 26 at the University of Makati Stadium in Makati City.
Participants will also have the chance to meet Azkals players Phil Younghusband and James Younghusband. “We are able to help these kids who need some assistance in combating some big issues and learning difficulties,” said LMS FC head coach Simon McMenemy. He said that as someone who grew up in a middle class family abroad, helping those children was a life-changing experience. “Doing things a lot of people do not is really something for me.”
The Meralco foundation said that it is honored to be the Marines partner in the endeavor, “We have been supporting them since 2011 and we are committed to sustaining this valuable cause. Our shared belief of building the skills of our young people to become responsible, productive and peace-loving citizens will hopefully lead us to a better country,” said OMF President Jeffrey Tarayao.
PMC, OMF and the Sparks are laying out plans for another football clinic outside of Metro Manila this year.