OVER a thousand unpoppable soccer balls were distributed to beneficiary children of selected NGOs and organizations of Football for Humanity (FFH ) and major partners—the Maharlika Sports Development Institute (MSDI) and the Mindanao Peace Council—during the launch of the “Play for Goals” campaign.
In a short program attended by football and futsal VIPs Michael Kevin Goco of the Philippine Football Federation; Danny Moran, CEO of The Henry V. Moran Foundation; and visiting futsal Hall of Fame awardee Vic Hermans of the Netherlands, MSDI and Davao-South Regional FA Executive Director Edgar Lim Te welcomed the partners and over a thousand children who had assembled at the over 4-hectare grounds to celebrate the start of FFH’s program that combines sports, education, health and wellness, and other development initiatives targeting mostly underprivileged and disadvantaged communities all over the Philippines.
“Football saved my life,” declared FFH founder Chris Thomas, who also mentioned the foundation’s alignment to the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Clean Water and Sanitation, Quality Education, Good Health and Well-being, and Reducing Inequalities. “Football gave my life purpose, hope, happiness and opportunity, and by giving these children their own balls, I hope to share this positive transformation that comes from engaging in sports.”
Key leaders from various Davao NGOs, such as the Mindanao Peace Council, various chapters of the JCI and the Rotary clubs, Gawad Kalinga and SOS Children’s Village, the local government, Ateneo de Davao University, and other groups coming from as far as Kidapawan, successfully pooled resources to implement an orderly and systematic distribution of the balls, which came in vibrant colors of red, fuschia and basic white.
The balls are called “unpoppable” since these are maintenance-free and do not need to be inflated or deflated like the ordinary soccer balls. Lisa Tarver, cofounder and chief impact officer of the donor, One World Play Project, said about their donation: “At One World Play Project, we believe all children should have the opportunity to thrive and reach their full potential through play. Access to play is critical for all aspects of a child’s development, especially for youth living in challenging environments. Football for Humanity Foundation is a wonderful partner, and [its] work is directly aligned with our mission to empower youth through play. With the donation of unpoppable One World Futbols, One World Play Project is honored to support their programs using soccer [football] and the power of play to empower youth, especially those affected by natural disasters, conflict and poverty.”
Mindanao Peace Council’s Hope Fernandez, lead convenor, and Vince Molejon, secretary-general, animated the crowd, rallying adults and children alike in celebrating the historical donation of 10,920 soccer balls. Te said, “I don’t think we’ve ever had a donation of this scale before. This is really unique and pioneering, for Mindanao football. It’s a great blessing to our youth, who come from all sectors—Muslim, Christian, indigenous—who can excel in football as well as any other athlete in the world.”
Football For Humanity is a charity registered in the Philippines and in the UK. The foundation uses football as a platform for peace and development, with a special focus on marginalized youth. The Play for Goals is a holistic community-development program promoted by the FFH and its partners such as the MSDI, Library Renewal Partnership, Waves for Water and other local and international organizations, whose initiatives are also aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.