OMF and Sparks bring ‛Football for Peace’ to Zamboanga
by DONDI LIMGENCO
Peace rarely "just happens." It needs to be continuously pushed for, defended, nurtured and, occasionally, kicked.
The Manila Electric Co.’s (Meralco’s) social development arm, One Meralco Foundation (OMF), joined a “Football for Peace” festival to foster peace in Mindanao. To do so, it partnered with the Loyola Meralco Sparks Football Club, the Philippine Marine Corps, and the Zamboanga City government.
“The primary goal of ‘Football for Peace,’” says OMF President Jeffrey O. Tarayao, “is to cultivate a culture of peace in the minds and hearts of these children, using the sport to foster interaction with kids outside of their communities.”
Held from September 30 to October 1, 2016, the festival is part of the Philippine Marines’ “Football for Peace” program, which seeks to instill a sense of camaraderie and sportsmanship, as well as the values of teamwork and discipline, in the hope of cultivating a culture of peace among the children involved.
More than 200 children from Mindanao’s conflict areas gathered at the Philippine Air Force Edwin Andrews Air Base in Zamboanga City for the two-day event, highlighted by an official United Football League (UFL) match between the Loyola Meralco Sparks Football Club and the Green Archers United Football Club. The game was intended to spark interest in the Football for Peace movement of the Philippine Marines, and was held in honor of slain Army colonel Tiny Perez, an advocate of the movement. He was killed a year ago in Zamboanga on Fathers’ Day.
Other participants included the Armed Forces of the Philippines–Western Mindanao Command, the Philippine Air Force, and the Zamboanga Football Association.
As part of the festival, the Meralco Sparks conducted a half-day football clinic to bring together young athletes from various communities; football players from Zamboanga City, including those affected by the Zamboanga Siege in 2013, from Basilan, and Philippine Air Force dependents.
“We hope this activity will also help bring ‘Football for Peace’ to the consciousness of more Filipinos,” declares Tarayao, “and help us grow the advocacy so that it will impact more children in these conflict areas.”