MANILA, Philippines – More than a year since its launch in February 2012, the Kasibulan Grassroots Football Program being funded by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) has attracted nearly 60,000 young children to the sport of football nationwide.
The “Kasibulan” grassroots football program, which aims to develop Filipino football talents aged six to 12, received a P20 million funding from the state-run gaming agency.
Pagcor chairman and CEO Cristino Naguiat Jr. said the significant progress made by the “Kasibulan” project can be attributed to the men and women who helped promote and generate awareness on the sport of football. He particularly cited the effort being exerted by the football coaches from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in introducing the game to young children from far-flung communities in the country.
“We’re not surprised that Kasibulan immediately made an impact on the lives of these children. This project is a collaborative effort among Pagcor, the PFF (Philippine Football Federation) and the football coaches in different parts of the country. We are very happy to see these young football enthusiasts very eager in their quest to become the next generation of Batang Azkals,” Naguiat said.
The PFF recently organized the first Regional Festival of Football (FOF) for 2013 using Pagcor’s funding. These football festivals serve as training pool of potential talents from which the country’s national football players will eventually emanate.
The football festivals were conducted in Davao, Camarines Sur, Negros Occidental, Tarlac, North Cotabato, Dipolog and Cagayan de Oro during the first quarter of 2013. Apart from skills assessment and training, the participants also played a series of small-sided matches under the guidance of their mentors during the FOF.
Twelve-year-old Julius Ritchie Balucan, a participant in the football festival held recently in Dipolog City, acknowledged the significance of football in his life. He shared that the pursuit of athletic excellence taught him the importance of hard work, discipline and self-worth.
Because of his talent and love for the game, Julius was granted a high school athletic scholarship by the De La Salle Dipolog, one of the most respected academic institutions in Dipolog City.
(The Philippine Star) | Updated May 30, 2013 – 12:00am
“Because of football, I’ll be able to finish high school. This is a big help to my family as we rely merely on the generosity of our relatives and through selling sugar-coated cassava to support our education and daily subsistence,” Balucan said.
According to Norben Patangan, a grassroots development officer of the Kasibulan Program, their coaches and trainors are scouting for players from the football festivals that can compete in a high-level contest such as the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) event.
“The FOF serves as training pool of children from different parts of the country. These kids will be screened for the national team,” Patangan explained.
He added that only 21 from thousands of aspiring young football players were chosen to represent the Philippines at the “AFC 2014 Under-14 qualifier” to be held in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar on May 28 this year. The national team will be pitted against other squads from Myanmar, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Timor-Leste.
Patangan is also very happy that children, especially those from less privileged families are given better opportunities through the Pagcor-funded grassroots sports development program. “I am very thankful to Pagcor for sponsoring this project. Hopefully in the future, more kids will benefit from it,” he said.