Moscow—Traveling all the way from Tacloban City in Leyte to the Russian capital, four young footballers and one youth leader shared their story of hope and resilience at the 2018 Fifa Foundation Festival that just ended Thursday (Friday in Manila).
Daniel Ocenar, Nilda Macion, Carl Ladios, and Mariane Yman—all survivors of Typhoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan)—were selected to represent the Philippines out of 865 children who successfully completed the Football for Life Academy program organized by Fundlife International in Tacloban City.
The young footballers joined more than 200 players from 48 countries in an intensive 11-day program of workshops, cultural exchanges, and friendly football matches aimed at harnessing the power of football for social development.
The highlight was the football tournament on June 30 at Moscow’s Red Square—the heart of the Russian Federation—where the young Taclobanons showed their football skills.
“I am very happy for our young champions for this opportunity to see Russia and connect with other football enthusiasts from various parts of the world,” Philippine Ambassador to Russia Carlos D. Sorreta said.
“I hope that this once-in-a-lifetime experience inspires them to excel more and be a force for positive change in their community. Thank you to Fundlife International for making this happen,” Sorreta added.
FFLA’s young coach/community mentor Robelyn Villas, also a Taclobanon, and Fundlife International Founder and Program Director Marco Kasic led the delegation.
Fundlife International, a non-profit organization, was established in 2014 after “Yolanda” to help in the rehabilitation process of the affected communities in Leyte and Samar.
The FFLA is a community-based holistic educational program that uses football as an engagement tool for interpersonal development, Kasic noted.
Through this flagship project, Fundlife International has already conducted more than 3,500 hours of direct play and education sessions, benefiting over 12,500 children in nine communities.