Munich, Germany – In front of 90,000 people, Football for Life (F4L), a Tacloban based football project initially designed to restore hope to Haiyan-survivor children won Best Social Awareness Award at the ISPO Munich 2017 amongst 400 contenders, a testament that football is definitely on the rise in Tacloban.
FundLife International, with the support of UNICEF, started the project in June 2014, with an initial plan of running the program for 12 months. However, due to the huge interest from children, communities and local coaches that it has not only continued, but grown exceptionally, and now reaches over 3,000 marginalised children from all over Tacloban.
In 2016, Korbinian Keckeis, was tasked with researching the best sporting innovations at ISPO, saw a video of F4L and immediately thought it would be a great candidate for the Best Social Awareness Award.
“When I saw the project and understood how football was being used to improve the lives of so many children, some of whom still don’t have permanent houses, I just thought to myself it would have a fantastic opportunity to win”, recalls Korbinian.
Even with such praise and previous recognition of the project, it was a tall order as F4L was up against global competition – and odds even lower considering there had been no previous Asian winners of the award. Despite all this, F4L picked-up the awarded and firmly put not just Tacloban, but also the entire Philippines on the map as a leader of using sport for social impact.
FundLife founder, Marko Kasic, and Head of Europe, Olga Babina, were in Munich to collect the award and spoke of their delight and surprise.
“It is very strange to be here in Germany talking about a project from Tacloban – but it just shows how much potential and enthusiasm there is within the Philippines, our work is simply giving a platform for that potential to be uncovered” Marko Kasic, added.
Olga Babina, who is now based in Europe after living in the Philippines for five years was quick to point out that the model which has been so successful in the Philippines can be replicated in Europe – “With so many refugees and migrants across Europe, football can be such a powerful tool to bring people together and promote social integration”.
On the ground in Tacloban, the F4L project has gone beyond just providing a fun activity for children – it has created 10 local teams from different barangays and uncovered some real talent!
This weekend, two of those teams will travel to Cebu and take part in the Thirsty Cup, Visayas largest football tournament. A boys U14 and girls U19 team will represent Tacloban from teams across the country.
While for the kids involved in F4L, the main attraction is football, the programme is aimed at using football to build confidence, self-belief and improve educational outcomes for children. To help achieve this, regular homework club sessions take place to ensure children are up to date with studies before they play.
And while there are no signs the project will stop soon, Marko hopes his role will soon won’t be needed.
“For us, success looks each team being locally supported and trained – when that happens, we will ensure the project can be sustainable”
Asked what chance the teams have to bring back a trophy from Cebu, Marko remarked, “They have a great chance, but if they keep winning, we might need thinking about a new cabinet to hold all the trophies”
More information on F4L and FundLife can be seen via www.fundlife.org and on www.facebook.com/f4lcf
Thirsty Cup schedule:
U14 Boys – Friday 24th February
U19 Girls – Saturday 25th February
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