peter_cariñoFor love of the game . . . how many athletes really play for the love of the game, putting that on top of having to win at all cost? And in the process of giving into the pressure to win, athletes forget usually about fair play, and how the sport they excel in should be a venue to building better ties with fellow athletes.

Fortunately, soccer is one of the few games in the world where fair play is preached. Okay, there are fan riots during heated soccer games, but blame such on the hooligans. That’s another topic.

In the Philippines, a grass-roots soccer movement called Kasibulan is already in full swing with the aim of getting public school students into the game without the pressure of winning. That’s right—children from public schools are targeted to join the sport without being pressured to bring home the trophy.

Kasibulan, the grassroots program of the Philippine Football Federation (PFF), was officially launched on February 11, 2012 and got support from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

Among the active parti-cipants of the Kasibulan project is the National Capital Region Football Association, which is headed by lawyer Rolan- do Tulay.

He told me that the major objective of Kasibulan is to get children from public schools six to 12 years old into the game of soccer. Winning is not neces-sarily the main objective of the whole exercise. Rather, the principle of fair play, which has been an international credo in soccer, will also be instilled among the children.

Naturally, skills development is among the major objectives of the program.

Local government units even pitched in to the program, with Marikina City being the first to launch its Kasibulan program in June 2012.

To boost the Kasibulan, the PFF entered into an agreement with the Department of Education on June 26, 2012, which will help institutionalize the program with the parti-cipation of teachers and coaches also.

While soccer is still pales in comparison to basketball when it comes to popularity among the youth, there is no doubt the Azkals Philippine soccer team has elevated the sport to new heights. In fact, the Kasibulan project and the participation it is currently generating is an offshoot of the Azkal’s popu-larity up to this day.

While participants in Kasi-bulan are not pressured to win, the best among them will eventually represent the coun-try in international competi-tions. In short, they are the future Azkals.

In fact, the initial phase of Kasibulan will run for seven years that will support the PFF’s goal of qualifying for the Under-17 World Cup of FIFA in 2019.

That is an ambitious goal but with less than six years to go before 2019, that is not an impossible goal.

Unlike basketball, height is not a requirement to excel in soccer. Ask soccer legend Diego Maradona and our very own Chieffy Caligdong.

In soccer, there is also no need to “shop” for giants from Africa and other countries. And kids who have survived the hard-ships in less developed regions in the Philippines may have stronger physical constitution than those who have lived their lives in the urban areas tinkering with the latest gadgets and watching TV.

In short, there definitely is no shortage of potential soccer talents from the grassroots. And Kasibulan is the perfect venue to develop those talents while teaching them fair play.

(Do you think Congressmen and Senators also need to take part in Kasibulan to learn about fair play?)

Who knows—the Philippines might one day become a “soccer crazy” nation.


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