WHILE the ongoing episode with the coronavirus pandemic has effectively halted affairs of various forms, nonprofit and nongovernment organization Football for Humanity (FFH) has been resilient, determined to see its vision of inspiring people through despite the prevailing challenges.

Registered in 2017, FFH aims to use sport and the power of play to inspire, empower and transform the lives of children affected by extreme poverty, natural disasters, and armed conflict.

Since taking root, it has made significant progress in its push, taking its program to more areas in the country.

FFH initially made its presence felt through football-related initiatives, namely: the building of football infrastructure such as the unique small-sided, five-a-side enclosed spaces; establishing football development programs; conducting one-off football trainings and events; donating old and new football equipment; assisting talented but underprivileged youth to seek scholarships; and other charitable initiatives.

It then progressed to doing its share in helping address educational, health, and well-being needs of different communities as well as promoting peace and development.

Then the pandemic hit early this year, making it tougher for FFH to set further its goals.

“It’s been a really difficult time I guess for everyone, and that includes the Foundation. But we have continued to keep FFH active,” shared Belle Tiongco, FFH co-founder and vice-president, by way of e-mail.

Ms. Tiongco went on to say that their initiatives for now are confined mostly to virtual sessions to adapt with the current situation, something she admitted has nothing like doing face-to-face interaction with stakeholders and beneficiaries, but they are making do with it.

Their most recent effort was done in collaboration with the United Kingdom-based Coaches Across Continents (CAC), which like FFH has its thrust anchored on using sports as a platform to make a difference in other people’s lives.

CAC uses a “purposeful play and education outside the classroom” program in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Convention on the rights of the Child.  

FFH and CAC organized a virtual session this month with local coaches and community heads, where they shared a curriculum that can be used, especially during this time of the pandemic.

CAC coaches Charlie Pomroy, Chester de Torres, and Adam Burgess joined the session along with Ms. Tiongco and FFH founder and president Chris Thomas, who is currently in the UK taking his MA in Social Work.

Philippine Azkals captain and Philippines Football League star Stephan Schröck also took part and shared words of encouragement to continue pushing forward and staying resilient.

During the more than an hour long virtual session, the coaches and facilitators talked about different topics like health and wellness, safety, and rights of a child, among others, with game play as the backdrop.

The session was well attended and appreciated by stakeholders, which Ms. Tiongco took as very positive.

“For Chris and me, it was symbolic. We did not know whether we would survive the pandemic, in more ways than one.  But, for some stroke of luck, we have reached Christmas and we continue to have plans.  That’s already a blessing,” said Ms. Tiongco, just as she vowed that they will continue to have FFH make things happen moving forward. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo