Caligdong gives back with "Football for a Better Life"
Santino Honasan on Mar 23, 2015 06:24 PM
The "Football for a Better Life" program, backed by Pru Life UK Philippines, is a series of football tournaments and clinics aims to develop and enrich grassroots football in the Philippines.
The program kicked off last March 7 at Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo, widely regarded as the football capital of the Philippines, and featured almost a thousand children from 41 teams across Visayas and Mindanao. Taking off from a successful first leg, the second leg was held at the CDC Parade Grounds in Clark, Pampanga last March 23, and saw 21 teams register for the tournament and around 500 public school children take part in the drills and excercises on the first day alone.
And with former Azkals team captain and Filipino football great Chieffy Caligdong at the helm, there's no doubt that the program is in good hands.
A product of grassroots football development himself, Caligdong has reached new heights thanks to his football career and sees the Football for a Better Life program as a way to give back.
"Actually it has been my advocacy for eight years na. Nung nasa Air Force pa ako and at the same time nasa Barotac pa ako, ito na yung ginawa ko na advocacy ko, kumbaga this is a time to give back sa mga bata, kasi syempre alam naman natin na marami na tayong natutunan sa National Team, marami din tayong natutunan sa Air Force. Ito yung paraan na nakita nila na naabot ko na yung gusto kong abutin, dahan-dahan pinapakita natin na maabot natin yung gusto natin sa buhay natin."
Aside from that, Caligdong hopes that the program will one day produce future national team members, and future collegiate football stars.
"Yung gusto natin ma-achieve dito, is ma-ipasok natin sila sa mga big universities, mabigyan natin sila ng magandang scholarship, makapag-aral sila ng maayos, and at the same time makapasok sila sa national team. It's always a balance, pag-aaral, playing."
Helping Caligdong out is Coach Chris Thomas, a British national who now serves as the program's Grassroots Development Progam Director. For Coach Chris, he hopes that the program will one day produce not only national team members, but also international football stars.
"Because we're getting into the grassroots level, the basic level, so we're really looking to develop the kids into proper football players who will have the potential and have the chance to maybe play for the National Team, not only for the National Team, but also in the international arena as well."
Coach Chris already has plans to one day turn these hopes into reality.
"What I want to do is invite scouts, so this is gonna open the door to Europe as well, even the USA, or even Australia, Japan, anywhere. It's a door of opportunity for the kids here. "
The Football for a Better Life program will take place in eight more locations from April to November of 2015.