Team Philippines on the Road to Rio for 2014 Street Child World Cup

By: Roy Moore - twitter: @roymondous

Sat. Jul. 06, 2013

Team Philippines continue their search for the best football talent in the country to compete in an international competition with a twist, all the players used to live or work on the streets.

The Street Child World Cup is designed for U16 boys and U17 girls who are street children. These are kids who live and work on the streets, begging, selling goods, sometimes stealing food to eat, sleeping in graves for beds, and those who are the most vulnerable in our society. 

In March 2014, just a short time before, and in the same place of, the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the Street Child World Cup will be held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Roughly 27 teams from 21 different countries will compete across the boys and girls divisions to show the world that regardless of a person’s background, any person, any child, is still somebody deserving of hope, of dreams, and of a future. 

Street Children

Throughout the world street children are referred to with contempt. In different cultures they are called ‘vermin’, ‘the plague’, ‘insects’ and ‘the children of slaves’ and treated inhumanely. In the Philippines the Marcos era in particular saw a sharp increase in the number of children killed by death squads for being a ‘nuisance’. This problem hasn’t gone away.

It’s notoriously difficult to find reliable statistics on how many street children there are. These are kids who are very good at hiding, as they have lots of practice hiding from police and other groups. Most estimates range between tens of millions to hundreds of millions globally. Without a home, a family, or a future, the most cited study for the Philippines was back in 1998 suggesting roughly 1.5 million children are living, sleeping, and working on the streets. Despite large economic growth, that number is not estimated to have fallen much, if at all.

In many studies the biggest cause of children fleeing to the streets is abuse. For girls in particular sexual abuse is a more common reason for running away from home. Imagine you’re a child unloved and beaten in your home, abused in different ways and constantly in fear, and so you run away. Without proper social security systems in place, you end up living alone and turning to the streets for the most basic necessities. That’s how millions of different children ended up living on the streets. 

Team Philippines

The Street Child World Cup looks to highlight the issues these children face. In the Philippines the problem is still very big but there are also lots of organizations working to change this. On June 23, a scouting tournament was held bringing together boys and girls teams from Payatas FC of the Fairplay for All Foundation, Gawad Kalinga, Dream Big DBYC, Josie’s Angels of Faith Academy, Nayon ng Kabataan, FC Leveriza, and Haven for Children. Held at the European International School in Paranaque it was the latest of the monthly tournaments sponsored by Witsenburg Natural Products held for these teams working with street children. 

Over the months a team will be formed from Manila from these tournaments and selected training sessions to form a Manila team. However as this is Team Philippines the Manila selection is then looking to play against teams from Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, and Tacloban, and hopefully other regions too depending on contacts and funding, with those trips forming the final selection of nine girls and nine boys to represent the Philippines in Brazil. In 2010 the team won the Shield, the secondary competition for those who didn’t qualify through the group stages. After defeating Brazil 6-2 in the group stages the Philippines went on to beat 2010 hosts South Africa in the final of the Shield. The Philippine team then ran a lap of honour with the South African flag, later saying it was to respect their opponents who had also become their friends during the youth conference, art exhibitions, and other events held during the week.

This time around, the boys want to go a step further in the main competition while the Philippine Girls team is also the only girls’ team competing from Asia, partly due to the more political nature of gender equality in some Asian countries.  The Philippines, then, is not just representing the country in Brazil, but in this case representing all the others who couldn’t be there from the whole of the continent. 

With Witsenburg Natural Products (http://www.witsenburg.net/languages/index.php?id=103) already sponsoring the local tournaments and training sessions in Manila there is growing support for the team and the cause. Team Philippines is also looking for a main sponsors each for the boys and for the girls teams whose sponsorship would garner large publicity and the main centre logo on the replica kits to be sold in advance and those worn at the final tournament in Brazil. 
Few people can understand what a street child has gone through. But together we can all help to change it. 

For more information on corporate or individual sponsorship or other ways you can get involved, get in touch with us at ffafoundation@gmail.com and help Team Philippines on the road to Rio. 


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