Payatas Football Outreach celebrates second year anniversary

Tomlinson and Moore with Global players. Image copyright Bob Guerrero.

Football heals. Football inspires. Football transforms. And you need look no further than Payatas, Quezon City's notorious dumpsite.

Located off the dusty concrete two-laner called Litex Road lies Payatas Trese, an unlikely venue for the Beautiful Game.

Two years ago two young Brits, Naomi Tomlinson and Roy Moore, launched Fairplay For All Foundation to introduce the sport to disadvantaged kids, many of whom pick through the trash to eke out a living. Apart from Football, the organization also helps feed and care for the kids.

I recently wrote about them and their Football Club, Payatas FC, last month when they played Xavier School's team in Turf BGC.

Payatas FC, which Moore coaches, has already joined several Football tournaments and trains a few times a week.

ALSO READ: FEU-FERN's new Football pitch: Artificial grass comes to QC.

I'm invited to their anniversary and I  arrive at the cramped Basketball court in Trese I see dozens of kids milling around and a few familiar faces helping hand out certificates of attendance and other goodies to the kids.

Global FC's Dave Basa, Lexter Maravilla, Paolo Pascual, Maverick Madayag, and Nino Ochotorena are on hand in matching Global training shirts.

A foreign film crew from the TV show FIFA Futbol Mundial is also there grabbing footage.

Roy Moore is also the master of ceremonies, and he is tells me that they would like to start a pickup game soon, but there is one problem: a car is parked in one side of the court.

Eventually the car is removed, cones are laid out as temporary goalposts, and the games begin.

The Global boys take on some of the Payatas boys and girls in a court so tight that the pillars are flush to the sidelines. Action is frenzied, and some of the Global defending, from their smiling players, is suspiciously lax.

ALSO READ: UAAP Women's Volleyball: The dream scenario, Ateneo vs La Salle Part 1.

I stand beside Naomi during one game and I marvel at the energy and verve of the kids, especially a tiny little boy named Marcos.

Wearing a blue shirt with red sleeves, the little bare-footed tyke, who can't be anywhere near four feet tall scampers around chasing balls with gusto.

Marcos. Image copyright Bob Guerrero.

The good vibes upon seeing him are tempered when Naomi tells me a sobering fact. Marcos is just seven years old. I could have sworn he was just four.

Marcos is, like so many kids in the program, woefully malnourished. Another boy, Rovick, is ten years old and isn't much taller.

Tomlinson tells me that although they have a feeding program in their drop-in center, they can only feed the 70-80 kids in their care four times a week. On other days, some kids have to make do with just rice flavored with a bit of salt or soy sauce.

Amie Perez and Naomi Tomlinson. Image copyright Bob Guerrero.

ALSO READ: Pint-sized Florida youth a Basketball prodigy.

Fair Play for All is mentored by Craig Burrows, another Brit with more than thirty years of development experience in the country. He blames the malnutrition it on farm subsidies in wealthy countries. According to him, farm subsidies keep prices of corn syrup low, which makes it impossible for poor countries to compete with their produce, and also make unhealthy junk food the cheapest food around, so many poor children have to live eating a nutritionally deficient diet.

Moments later I ask Roy if I can get into a game and he obliges. I'm inserted into a game as the only girl against several of the kids. It's a tough game as the kids, both girls and boys press enthusiastically.

Naomi is surprisingly fielded in our game and I try to throw-in the ball to her. Instead of getting at the ball she cowers in fear as it flutters towards her. I should've known better.

Image copyright Bob Guerrero.

Roy is our referee but a few minutes into the game he abandons his whistle and joins my team. Me and him engage in a neat tiki-taka passing sequence that ends with me firing at the goal but the young Payatas keeper bats it away like Neil Etheridge. Boo.

After the games conclude we troop off to a property two blocks away. Roy explains that the land has been bought and will be used to expand their operations and reach out to more kids. Moore also hopes to one day build their own indoor Football facility so they don't need to compete with Basketball players anymore.

In Moore's simple home we cap off our visit with a simple lunch of mostly vegetarian food and some chicken. Thanks are given, pictures are taken, and goodbyes said.

Fair Play For All is two years old. Lets hope it continues to transform lives decades from now.

Group pic. Image copyright Bob Guerrero.

To learn more about Fairplay For All Foundation, visit their Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fairplay-For-All-Foundation/163370857062294?fref=ts

You can also visit the website of the foundation's funding agency, at http://triplee.org.uk/.

Follow Roy Moore on Twitter @roymondous. You can follow Bob @bhobg333.