It’s not just a sport, it’s a lifestyle.

Futkal

About a month ago, my friend Meryl started interning for Starbucks Philippines and she’s been telling me about how incredible the entire experience has been so far. When I told her that I was going to be in town for a week she invited me to join her and her phenomenal boss Z on a football-filled Wednesday I would never forget :)   

Our first stop was somewhere in Cainta, Rizal where we visited the kids who are part of Street Soccer Shelter for Change. If you guys have never heard of it, it’s basically a program that uses street soccer and the Homeless World Cup for the benefit of economically deprived Filipinos. 

See the Homeless World Cup (and in this case the Philippine Team) gives marginalized Filipinos an opportunity to train, compete, and represent the country. The team is composed of different players every year but it never really stops after that year. A chance like this opens doors for them and keeps that continuing positive change.    

I got the opportunity to meet one of members of the team that represented the Philippines in Milan, Italy - Kuya Larry! 

I’ve never played football before but I know that I wouldn’t mind having Kuya Larry as my coach. He connected with these kids in such a way that he made sure that they understood the drills but at the same time had fun! They asked me if I wanted to join them during training but unfortunately (or… fortunately) I sprained my ankle recently so I couldn’t. The un-sporty me wouldn’t have lasted very long anyway!    

Click here if you’re interested in reading more about the Street Soccer Program :)

After lunch we headed over to Tondo and I’m sure you all know about the Futkaleros! I just recently wached this video of Jim Libiran talking about the Futkaleros and his film Happyland (which I really really want to see) and I have to say that that afternoon spent in Tondo made me see things in a completely different perspective. Because in the midst of all this…

there’s this:

Futkal (Futbol sa Kalye) or street football is a lifestyle. It’s an art that the futkaleros take seriously. I got the chance to talk to one of them and it was an amazing experience to get to know someone so driven by this sport and by this art form. 

I was only there for an afternoon but I could tell the commitment and spirit these guys have. They’re smart beyond the books and football really changed their lives. It gave them scholarships and it opened doors, and I’m pretty sure that they’ll go a long way.  

Pep talk before training

Coach Peter giving the players (and coaches!) pointers for their summer program

I was able to meet two of the Football NGO grantees of Starbucks and I really wish I had the chance to meet the people behind Dream Big Pilipinas as well. I guess a week in Manila is not enough. But thank you Z and Mer for inviting me to join you guys! I got the chance to meet such brilliant people and I had a really wonderful time. I hope this wont be the last!

Go and email csr@rustancoffee.ph! Are you interested in volunteering?