By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
ON Oct. 20 the British Embassy Manila and Football for Humanity Foundation (FFH) were joined by cross-sector groups in celebrating “UK-Philippines Friendship Day Football,” an event that was also used as an opportunity to underscore the potential of sports, in particular football, in uniting people and improving lives.
Took place at the Everest Skypitch in Silang, Cavite, the friendship day was marked by a half-day football clinic and game session for children, some disadvantaged from Mindanao.
Present during the event were officials of the British Embassy, led by head of trade and investment Richard Colley, and FFH, along with representatives from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Mindanao Peace Council, Maharlika Sports Development of Davao, Quota International–Davao, Alorica Philippines, ASDA–UK, Laguna Lions FC, Football Manila and Tala Manila.
The children who participated in the clinic and game session were from the Dar Amanah Children’s Village Foundation and Barangay Hoyo in Silang.
In his message during the event, Mr. Colley, who represented British Ambassador to the Philippines Daniel Pruce, highlighted how British and Philippine relations have been in existence for a long time now and how the two countries have collaborated on various causes.
He went on to say that the British Embassy supports the efforts of different organizations, including FFH, to continue their work of uplifting the lives of Filipino children.
For the Mindanao Peace Council, the friendship day and what it stands for bring much hope to it in relation to what it is trying to do in Mindanao.
“This day gave me hope. It is something to look forward to that there is another avenue to use to bring about peace in Mindanao. We at the Mindanao Peace Council are trying to find different ways to try to stop conflicts and violence in the area. It’s not only the job of the government and the soldiers but it should come from each and every one of us,” said Hope M. Fernandez-Mendoza of the Mindanao Peace Council and lead convenor of H.O.P.E. Foundation, in an interview with BusinessWorld when asked for his thoughts on the event.
She said the partnership of the Mindanao Peace Council and FFH has been in existence for a little over a year but it has been doing its share in promoting peace in the region through football and that they fully support the thrust.
“Balls instead of bullets. Mindanao has the areas and it just needs the programs,” said Ms. Fernandez-Mendoza.
On the part of FFH, a charity dedicated to using football and the power of play to create personal and social transformations, to see its push in the country get added dimension and have more organization coming on board is truly a welcome development.
“It started with a dream basically. When I came here in the Philippines and saw the people and the culture and the great demand for football, we developed a strategy which allowed us to implement our vision,” said FFH founder Chris Thomas in a separate interview.
“Football is just one tool that can help bring peace and development. We hope to continue doing it in Mindanao and going to other places to bring the same opportunities,” added Mr. Thomas, whose organization can be reached through www.footballforhumanity.org.uk and www.facebook.com/footballforhumanity.