Philippine National Football Team defender Simone Rota was unveiled as the 2016 Philippine Football Federation (PFF) Hero of the Year for his contributions to the local community.
The 32-year-old booter was chosen by the local football governing body together with the Azkals foundation for his work not only on the pitch but also for his charity work.
Since his arrival in the Philippines back in 2014, Rota has been very active in helping the less fortunate youth through the Buklod Kalinga orphanage.
According to Azkals head coach Thomas Dooley, who handed the award Rota, they chose to hand the honor to the imposing defender due to his passion for helping the kids in need.
“There are many talented players in the Azkals and Simone is a very wonderful. He does anything possible to make everything possible for the kids. He always does a little bit more not only in football but also especially to street children in Manila,” he explained.
Rota was officially proclaimed as the awardee for the said recognition through a ceremony at Buklod Kalinga last week, which included the turnover of the life-size statue of the player.
Consequently, Rota claimed that he was surprised that he was given the accolade and claimed that he did not know that he would be recognized in such way.
“I didn’t expect it. They told me that we will only be having a meeting with coach Dooley then we will proceed to the feeding for the kids after,” he commented.
He continued, “I have been staying here for a long time and I’m very thankful for the recognition. This award is special not only for me but for the kids as well.”
From his transfer from playing in Europe to playing for Stallion FC in the United Football League, Rota has chosen to live among the orphans at Buklod Kalinga.
It was where Italian couple Maurizio and Marilena Rota adopted him after being abandoned by his biological parents when he was just two months old in 1984.
Meanwhile, Rota declared that the award is a good way to end his year as he slowly recovers from a major injury in his knee while playing for his domestic club.
“2016 has been really, really tough for me. I suffered two major injuries. This award will help me start for the New Year with new energy. I will be working hard for the Azkals in March,” he concluded.
JAELLE NEVIN REYES