From the Philippine Star (Apr 16): Soldiers make love, not war in football program
Present during the Football for Peace clinic at the University of Makati track and field oval are James Younghusband, Lt Col. Stephen Cabanlet, Jeffrey Tarayao and Phil Younghusband of Loyola, Meralco Sparks FC with children from Mindanao. JOEY MENDOZA
Soldiers from the Philippine Marine Corps and Philippine Army trade their guns for “indestructible footballs” to preach peace by teaching the beautiful game to kids in areas where they’re deployed in, especially in “conflict areas” in Mindanao, through the “Football for Peace” program.
Now on its fourth year, the program held in partnership with Meralco’s social development arm One Meralco Foundation (OMF) and football team Loyola Meralco Sparks aims to not only hone the skills but also instill the values of sportsmanship, camaraderie, teamwork and discipline in the kids so they grow up as productive and peace-loving citizens.
“The footballs serve as our weapons in this ‘new battlefield’,” said Lt. Col. Stephen Cabanlet, executive officer of third Marine Batallion and founder of Football for Peace. “We the soldiers who are deployed in Mindanao will continue to keep our guns away and bring the balls to help the children attain peace and prosperity in their communities.”
Yesterday, more than 200 kids from Sultan Kudarat, Misamis Oriental, Zamboanga, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, Lanao del Norte, Cagayan de Oro and Palawan took part in a football clinic conducted by the Sparks, led by coach Simon McMenemy and stars Phil and James Younghusband at the University of Makati field.
One of the participants was an eight-year-old son of a Moro Islamic Liberation Front from Basilan.
“This speaks a lot since he entrusted his son to the Philippine military,” said Cabanlet, adding that in Football for Peace, “we don’t consider anyone an enemy, we’re all Filipinos who want peace.”
Jeffrey Tarayao, One Meralco Foundation president and chief corporate social responsibility officer, reiterated the company’s commitment to youth development through sports.
“It’s a great honor for us to be chosen by the Philippine Marine Corps as their partner in this inspiring initiative. Our shared belief of building the skills of young people to become responsible, productive and peace-loving citizens will hopefully lead us to a better country,” said Tarayao.
The Younghusbands said they enjoyed the experience as much as the participants relished their interaction.
“Being here today reminded me what football was really about, it’s about peace and enjoying the sport, having the inner child in you kicking the ball and having fun,” said James.
Around 500 members of the three royal houses led by Maguindanao Prime Sultan Mandanaue Darussalam Sayyid Abdulaziz Salem Kudarat Mastura V, Sultan of Kabuntalan PinandTuUkoMluk, Buayan Sultanate Amil Kusain Camsa and Taviran IV DatuNoldin S. Oyod converged at Davao Water Front Hotel on Monday April 13.
The Sultans said in a statement that they held the assembly so their voices be heard by the national government and the peoples of Mindanao.
“We have suffered many years of struggle and we want peace in our home for both Christians and Muslims including our indigenous brethren,” Prime Sultan Sayyid said.
The royal houses leaders cited Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) 1st Vice Chair Ghazali Jaffar for giving the participants the MILF’s position on the BBL status.
Jaffar lamented the delay in the BBL deliberation in Congress brought by the unfortunate Mamasapano incident last January 25 where 44 police commandoes, 17 MILF fighters and three civilians perished.
He said the delay in the deliberation of the measure is painful both for Muslims and Christians.
The MILF official underscored the goal of the Bangsamoro, a new political entity, which is to spur development in Southern Philippines dubbed as “The New Mindanao.”
He added that as the people aim to build up new Mindanao, “guns shall be changed to shovels. Cannons shall be changed into tractors! Bombs will be changed into Fertilizers! Bullets shall be changed into seedlings!”
The draft BBL is currently in the hands of lawmakers for deliberation. Some senators and congressmen have seen certain provisions which they view as unconstitutional and have considered to have those removed.
The MILF leadership hopes the proposed charter for the Bangsamoro people will not be diluted. The BBL was drafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission whose members were appointed by President Aquino.