Rota, Caygill and football advocates at FFABL in Benguet and Subic

Rota, Caygill, football advocates at FFABL in Benguet, Subic
Kids listen to Filipino-British footballer and sportscaster Graham Caygill.

The pitch of Benguet State University was jampacked with football stalwarts and enthusiasts for the eighth leg of Football for a Better Life (FFABL), the grassroots development program supported by Pru Life UK in cooperation with Spears Sports, the Azkals Foundation, local governments and the provincial football associations.

Around 1,300 boys and girls turned up on the morning of November 18 for the free football clinic conducted by Azkals’ defender Simone Rota, Azkals’ forward Jim Ashley “Azuli” Flores, Fil-Brit footballer Graham Caygill, and goalkeeping coach and former national player Reffix Cuaresma. United Football League (UFL) 2016 Best Goalkeeper Nelson Gasic who hails from Baguio, and over 50 coaches from the Cordillera Region Football Association were also facilitators at the clinic. 

The mentors from Metro Manila (Rota, Flores, Caygill, Cuaresma) were overwhelmed with the huge number of clinic participants since it was the largest group since FFABL was launched in March 2015.  The kids, whose ages ranged from as six to 17, included players from football clubs and teams, students from public schools and children enrolled in the Department of Education (DepEd) Alternative Learning System. They came from Benguet, Baguio and the Cordillera. 

Cuaresma shared on Facebook, “I coached more than 250 kids, aged 15 to 17 years old. What an achievement! It was fun and fulfilling!” 

Frael Aquino of the Benguet State University Football Club and president of the Cordillera Regional Football Assocation remarked that football has become big in their region. “We’ve been conducting grassroots courses since 1999 when the Kasibulan grassroots football progam started, and we have never stopped,” explained Aquino. “Many of the products of that program are now players, coaches and teachers who are sharing their love for the sport to the younger generation.”

Numerous players stayed on for the seven-a-side football tournaments that were held on November 19 and 20. “The PRU Life UK representatives were surprised that more than a thousand kids played in the U8, U10, U12, U14 and U17 matches,” said Aquino. 

The FFABL fever continues this coming weekend, November 26-27 at the Remy Field at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.  Around 600 footballers from Olongapo,  Zambales, Pampanga, Bataan, Tarlac and nearby towns are set to take part in the clinics and U10, U12, 14 and Boys’ and Girls’ Open tournaments. 

Chieffy Caligdong, Simone Rota, Ashley Flores and Graham Caygill will conduct the football clinic to be held on the morning of November 26. The FFABL leg in Subic is organized in partnership with the Olongapo City Zambales Football Association, DepEd Olongapo City and the Olongapo City Sports and Development Council.

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