FROM Tacloban City, Leyte to Moscow, Russia, four young Filipino footballers joined more than 200 players from 48 countries at the 2018 Fifa Foundation Festival held at the Red Square from June 25 to July 5, as their leader shared their stories of hope and resilience.
Daniel Ocenar, Nilda Macion, Carl Ladios and Mariane Yman—all survivors of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda)—were selected to represent the Philippines out of the 865 children who successfully completed the Football for Life Academy (FFLA) program organized by Fundlife International in Tacloban City.
The teen Taclobanons found themselves joining an intensive 11-day program of workshops, cultural exchanges and friendly football matches aimed at harnessing the power of football for social development.
Highlight of their trip was the football tournament on June 30 at the Moscow Red Square—the heart of the Russian Federation—as Tacloban’s young champions showcased their football skills.
Ambassador of the Philippines to Russia Carlos D. Sorreta stated, “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. I hope that this once-in-a-lifetime experience inspires them to excel more and be a force for positive change in their community.”
FFLA’s coach-community mentor and fellow Taclobanon Robelyn Villas, as well as Fundlife International Founder and Programme Director Marco Kasic, led the delegation.
Fundlife International, a nonprofit organization, was established in 2014 after the onslaught of Yolanda to help in the rehabilitation process of the affected communities in the islands of Leyte and Samar. On the other hand, the FFLA is a community-based holistic educational program that uses football as an engagement tool for interpersonal development.