Football for a Future: the memory of Rogie Maglinas serves as an inspiration to kids in Del Carmen, Masbate

Football for a Future
(Photo courtesy of Muriel Gonzales)

By Muriel Gonzales

 

Seventy-seven children gathered under grey skies at the muddy open field in Del Carmen National High School in Uson, Masbate. 120 children were expected but due to the inclement weather, fewer had shown up. Some kids were barefoot, others had slippers, a few wore donated branded sports shoes.

At the entrance of the school hung a tarp congratulating Sheila Cadag a graduate of Del Carmen National High School who was last UAAP season’s Rookie MVP.

Another tarpaulin bore a bittersweet farewell to Del Carmen alumnus Rogie Maglinas who succumbed to cancer 1 1⁄2 years ago. Rogie was a beloved winger (offense player) of the U.P. Men’s Football Team which dedicated its subsequent UAAP championship victory to Rogie.

It was 3:30 pm on a Sunday afternoon, and the children were ready for a training session by visiting Coach Andres (Anto) Gonzales of the U.P. Men’s Football Team. Anto led both the UP Men’s & Women’s Football team to twin UAAP Championships the year Rogie passed on. A handful of other local coaches were there to assist.

These men and women are Del Carmen’s roster of dedicated teachers who voluntarily spend their time teaching the kids football after class hours.

As a farming community, Del Carmen hadn’t always been known to produce football talents.

The nearby town of Aroroy is considered to be the hotbed of football talent in Masbate because of funding from Pilminera Mining Corp. At Del Carmen, many students drop out of school to support their parents. "Actually dito sa probinsya, ang pagtatapos ng pag-aaral ay di ganoong kahalaga sa mga magulang dahil di nila kaya ang gastos. Ang importante lang ay matapos ang mga bata sa elementary,” says Coach Juanito Burgos.

Del Carmen National High School’s grassroots football program has nevertheless opened doors to its students.

At the start, the teachers didn’t foresee the effects of their efforts. "Bigla na lang kami na-inform na iskolar pala sina Rogie at... si Abelida, magkasabay silang mga senior sa high school...Lalo kaming na-encourage. Maganda ang nagiging benefit sa mga bata. Mula noon, yun na ang naging habol namin, habol ko as a Coach...kahit lang sa schooling ng mga bata ay makatulong,” says Burgos.

The ripple effect took hold of the community as parents started becoming more supportive. “...Tapos na-realize na rin ng mga parents: tulungan natin yung mga bata. Pag makasali ang mga bata sa football scholarship, ay may pag-asa na silang makaaral. Basta sipagan lang ng mga bata ang pagpractice ng football, gagaling at gagaling din sila. Makakapasok sa universidad bilang athletic scholars.”

So it is that DeI Carmen’s homegrown football program gave Rogie the technical skills and athleticism that got him into University of Makati as a scholar athlete, and eventually to U.P. Diliman as Football Varsity player.

In 2015, Rogie played for Socceroo in the United Football League (UFL), the country’s now defunct semi-professional league. He received allowances which he saved and sent to his parents in Del Carmen to pay for his younger brother Yoyong’s school-related expenses.

Football gear that he received in Manila Rogie would send to the younger players at Del Carmen. Rogie was Del Carmen’s pride and joy, alongside alumni players who made it as scholars to football teams in Lyceum, Emilio Aguinaldo College, UST and UP. One of his coaches Jenny Rosero fondly recalls, “Si Rogie? Masipag yan. Araw-araw, tuwing hapon nasa field siyang nag-eensayo.”

Rhabdomyosarcoma took Rogie’s life at the age of 19 after a long, hard, fight. Rogie was on his way to becoming a national team player, his dream as a child when cancer overtook him.

Yet his story continues to inspire many others. Yoyong has shown huge potential and is already being eyed to perhaps land a scholarship in a top University as did his elder brother.

The teachers at Del Carmen have been dogged in continuing their football program. "Sa aming mga coaches, halos iilan sa gastos ay nanggagaling sa amin. Kami ang naglalabas ng pera para sa mga bata,” says Women’s Football Team Coach Jay Quiles.

Running a football program without the support of the LGU or proper funding faces many challenges: one is insufficient equipment. "Noong nag-uumpisa kami wala kaming equipment, kulang ng bola, walang sapatos, talagang by scrap. Buti na lang may nabiling mga ukay-ukay na sapatos. Pero grabe, overused na, pinagtitiyagaan namin” says Burgos.

Another problem is the sheer lack of competitive matches that the children get exposed to. Ideally, for youth players to develop in the sport, they need between 30-50 competitive matches (the older they become, the more competitive matches they should be playing) a year. The Del Carmen youth footballers get only 12-15 competitive matches a year.

There is barely any support for organizing competitions. Neither from the provincial football association nor the LGU due to scarcity of resources. Adjacent towns are only keen to compete if prize money is involved. They too are constrained by the logisitical costs: registering, transporting and feeding players.

A quality playing field catering to the training and development of Del Carmen’s teams would also help improve the children’s playing environment. Currently, one single 7-aside sized field is shared by at least 4 teams.

Another challenge is the lack of training programs and technical support for the coaches. Improving the technical and tactical capabilities of Del Carmen’s coaches through the aid of external football institutions would greatly elevate the development of Del Carmen’s players.

Addressing all these challenges will help Del Carmen achieve recognition as a talent pool for topnotch football players. In turn, this would help to garner the support of the LGU by including Del Carmen’s football program in its budget and resource priorities.

Last July, the U.P. Men’s and Women’s football teams held the first Rogie Maglinas Fundraising Cup. The Cup generated P12,100 which was used to buy equipment for Del Camen. So on July 23, Coach Anto flew to Masbate to conduct football training and distribute the gear they acquired (balls & markers) and clothes that were donated.

Running across the muddy, pock-marked field with new soccer balls, the children of Del Carmen focus on executing the coaches’ cues, gleefuly laughing and smiling during their training session.

At the end of the session, donated clothes and shoes are distributed, yet there are enough for only forty seven (out of seventy seven) of the children. “Babalik kami, lahat din kayo makakakuha ng gamit sa susunod, ” says Gonzales. “Ok lang?” “Okay!”, cheer back the children.

Football may not be the nation’s favorite sport, but it has become a channel of community spirit, hope and a chance at a brighter future for the people of Del Carmen.

 

The U.P. Football Team invites you to help the students and coaches of Del Carmen reach their dreams and make a difference in the lives of these children.

Any amount is welcome. You may deposit donated funds to the U.P. Men’s Football Account under the names Nathanael Ace P. Villanueva and Joseph Ryan G. Fermin BDO 003570174969.

Donations of equipment, sports clothes, and football shoes would be greatly appreciated. These can be dropped off at the drop- off box at the main entrance of the College of Human Kinetics, U.P. Diliman anytime from 7am to 6pm.

You may also contact Patrick Dizon +63 917 515 1245 or send a message through the U.P. Men’s Football Team Facebook Page. 

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