The 13-and-under Futsal team fielded by Gawad Kalinga Philippines (GK) returned from an EU tour last May, participating in the 2017 Hazebrouck International Youth Cup held on May 26 and 27 in Hazebrouck, France, as well as attending several training programs in Barcelona, Spain, and Zurich, Switzerland. The team, GK Sipag FC, is composed of young boys and girls from several GK communities and finished with a respectable 3-win, 3-loss record in the tournament.
The 12-member GK Futsal team was selected from participants of the SipaG program, a grassroots, gender-neutral sports program that aims to empower the youth from public primary schools through various athletics programs. Lately, the SipaG’s focus has been on Futsal, a variant of soccer played with five, instead of eleven, players on each side on a slightly smaller field.
GK Futsal FC’s European trip was made possible through the generosity of GK French interns who raised funds to sponsor the trip. Coach Thomas Paul Pfly, the Swiss volunteer coach of GK SipaG, also helped support the trip through the KAYA FC Academy in Manila, where he is the resident coach.
Ernie Maipid, GK Formation Director, offered some words of encouragement to the team during their send-off at GK Headquarters in Mandaluyong, Philippines, last May 5. “Kayo ay mga ambassador, ipamalas nyo sa buong mundo kung ano ang galling ng mga Pilipino, lalo na sa pakikipagkaibigan.” (You are ambassadors, so show the whole world what Filipinos can do, especially when it comes to building lasting friendships)
At the same send-off event, Coach Nico Lufamia, a resident of the GK Tatalon community in Quezon City, Philippines, and who will be traveling with the team, shared his journey from poverty to being on the verge of graduating from college, thanks to SipaG. “Dalawa kaming magkapatid na nagsimula sa GK at ngayon graduating na sa college. Thankful na ako dun, pero ngayon ibang experience naman eto, kaya kung ano ang itinuro sa akin noon, I will share it sa inyo ngayon.” (My sibling and I began as GK residents, and are now graduating from college. I’m thankful for the opportunity to be a part of a GK community, but this (European tour) is a different kind of experience, an opportunity for me to share with you (the players) the lessons I learned growing up in a GK community)
Coach Chester De Torres, a resident of GK Mandaluyong and currently an AFC C-Licensed Coach and WFL referee, closed the send-off with a message of hope for the team’s continued growth. “Di man tayo kasing-galing nila pero sana pagkatapos ng trip na ito makuha natin ang standards at disiplina nila sa paglalaro.” (We may not currently stack up well against the competition in terms of raw talent, but after this European tour, we’ll learn proper training standards and player discipline.)
Maricel Barreiro Villanueva, Executive Director of GK USA, the US arm of Gawad Kalinga, hopes to receive continued support for the Futsal program from its US-based donors. “It’s wonderful to see how a grassroots sports program, funded by GK donors from all over the world, including the United States, is working to broaden the minds and experiences of children from disadvantaged communities.”
The 12 players were accompanied on their Europe tour by their coaches, Coach Kevin Goco, Coach Dennis Montealto, Coach De Torres,Coach Lufamia and Coach Pfly.
To learn more about and support the GK SipaG Futsal program, click here.