July 13, 2014 was a special day, and not just because of the FIFA World Cup final. It was the first anniversary of the club I founded, Western Bicutan FC.
A year before that date I gathered a few of the kids from the community, some of whom happened to be in my church, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bicutan, and we had a kickaround in the Technological University of the Philippines field. The kids are from underprivileged backgrounds. Maybe not as impoverished as the players in Payatas FC but definitely most struggle.
One morning while I was conducting some drills a young man approached me and asked about my program. He lived in the area and just happened to pass by. It turns out he was from Barotac Nuevo, and used to be Chieffy’s team mate in high school. Kishore Patrimonio has since been coaching and playing for us ever since. He’s introduced me to three other Ilonggo Footballers from Santa Barbara, Ellie, Pedped, and Ardy, who have helped coach the children and also play alongside them in open tournaments.
This is our home court in the Western Bicutan Tenement. Over 40 kids play there every Saturday morning and sometimes on Sundays too.
Serendipity has played a big role in this club. A former womens’ national futsal team player, Yhang Mocorro, just happens to live in the tenement. Noel Marcaida, former head coach of Pachanga, lives a jeep ride away.
Much has happened in one year. I’ve gotten the local ironworks man, who usually makes window frames, to make two futsal goal frames. They are slightly small, since I told him the posts should be 2 meters long and crossbar three meters. I only realized after that the OPENING should be 3×2 meters, not the bars.
But the goal frames are now in the volleyball court, which, thankfully, doesn’t have basketball goals, so we get to play quite often.
Some of the older boys and girls had already been playing for their school side when I met them. Others started the game with us. A few of the younger kids are really showing promise.
Western Bicutan Football Club’s various youth and ladies teams have played in too many competitions to count already.
The team has also played against and beaten a side from Guam in a full 11-a-side match, and the girls have scrimmaged with the Baguio-Benguet futsal team that played in the Philippine National Games.
We’ve played 9-a-side tournaments in Acacia and ASCOM, and futsal events in Las Piñas. The young kids have played in UA&P’s court in the Ambassadors’ Cup (and got some great uniforms courtesy of the USA embassy.)
We have played against UAAP players, Street Child World Cup players, youth national team players and teams composed of Vietnamese and Nigerians.
We’ve finished second twice, with our U16s in Don Bosco Mandaluyong, and with our U13s in the Ambassadors Cup.
The kids have also watched UFL games and met their idols like Chieffy Caligdong and Patrick Deyto, who have given away shorts and shirts to some of the players.
Running the club (I call myself the Technical Director because it makes me sound intelligent, even if I cannot get goal frame measurements right) takes up a lot of time and expense. There have been weekends where I have spent in excess of P12,000 on registration fees and transportation. But when I see the kids’ faces light up in joy after scoring a goal, it all becomes worth it.
What I’ve learned from this experience is the sheer joy of being around and being a good influence to young people. They have an energy that is infectious, and just helping them out is its own reward. Kids can sometimes be frustrating to deal with, but mentoring them is fulfilling. It’s true, football can teach you so many values and lessons everyone needs in real life.
I made sure to draw up mission and vision statements and a set of core values; respect, discipline, fun, teamwork, generosity, humility and integrity. You can read them here on our Facebook group. Nowhere is “winning” mentioned.
The kids’ enthusiasm for the game is incredible. Whenever I announce that we are joining a competition, we always have enough players. Their love and passion for football is as strong as anywhere else, and that’s why I lost my heart to these kids long ago.
What do I plan for the future? I am working on putting another set of goal frames in the nearby school. Jerrylyn Fabroa, mother of France, on of the womens’ players, is the PE teacher there and has also helped out with the school teams. Architect Nelson Siggaoat has graciously offered to help us with this project.
Eventually I hope to have the club SEC-registered and DWSD-registered as well. No, I have no plans of ever joining the UFL. I see WBFC as developmental club for kids who have no resources or other opportunities to enjoy the game. I encourage players in our club who have potential to join other clubs where they can get better training if they have the opportunity.
My goal is to have some of the kids playing in WBFC to get university football scholarships. It won’t be easy but I will do my best.
Why am I writing this? For two reasons: 1) I am always looking for sponsors, since even a club like this has a lot of expenses. We don’t even have a permanent kit yet. And 2) to encourage you, my readers, to start your own project if you have the time and resources to do so. It isn’t that hard, and if I have learned one thing, it’s that once you start something like this and word gets around, people will come up to you and offer help without you even asking.
With that in mind, I will now say my thanks to those who have done just that.
Russell Morgan and Phil Smithson of UX MNL. You guys rock!
Joey Prats of Weekend Futbol League. Thanks for the ball!
Kim Versales: thanks for the orange “prison gang” jerseys and the bibs!
Ed Qua Hiansen and Miguel Bermundo of Dream Big Pilipinas. Thanks for having us at the tournament!
Leon Peckson and everyone in the Ambassadors Cup and PFF: thanks for the balls and training aids and the opportunity to play in the Ambassadors Cup.
Monchu Garcia of GAU: thanks for the bibs!
Virgie Tibuldo-Bungay: thanks for having your girls come over!
Jerrylyn Fabroa: thanks for all your support in chaperoning and accompanying the kids to all the tournaments!
Glenver Gregorio thanks for your kindness in sharing extra proceeds of Sunday football to our kids!
Nelson Siggaoat thanks for your offer to help out with the goal frames!
Jaycee Recto: thanks for inviting us to your tournament!
Karl Claudio and everyone at Garelli for the tournament invites!
Futkaleros and Manila Jeepney FC: thanks for having us in your tournament!
Chieffy, Patrick Deyto, and Misagh Bahadoran, thanks for posing for pics with our kids!
Rory Mansbridge, Rea Celine Villa, coach Francisco de Boer and everyone at Southville, thanks for inviting us for friendlies.
Noel Marcaida thanks for your inspiring words!
Special thanks to our Ilonggo Coaching Mafia, Ellie Sucaldito, Pedped Susmiran, Kishore Patrimonio for all their help! Coach Ardy umuwi ka na!
Thanks to Peter John Sobredo, perhaps the greatest player ever to play for WBFC.
Coach Ayi Nii thanks for inviting us to Xavier over Christmas!
Xarex Velasquez thanks for organizing those futsal tournaments!
Kagawad Arlan Salido for your support! Ditto for Kapitan Nicky Supan. We must meet soon!
Denrei Catalan for sending over the Power Horse stuff all the way from Qatar!
Noel Hartley of the US Embassy thanks for supporting us in the Ambassadors Cup and playing for us too!
Benjie Mar Barnes Jacobo thanks for your generous interest in the club!
Bixie Reyes for designing our uniform and putting up with my client-ness and also giving us a futsal coaching manual.
Elszon Balla, our incredible, responsible, efficient, amazing club secretary and fearless midfielder!
Norma Maesa salamat sa mga snacks!
Gue David thanks for all the advice and mentoring!
Jonathan Defensor De Luzuriaga thanks for your kindness!
Coach Leo Jaena and Colonel Alberto Masuda thanks for your offer of coaching help! AFWWW!
Amanda Abrera Bengson, thanks for coming out of nowhere to chip in. Your generosity is amazing! Hope to meet you soon. Thanks John D for connecting us!
And last but not least, my English brothers-from-other-mothers, Craig Burrows and Roy Moore, for providing the inspiration and encouragement to do this. Roy also invited our kids to play with his SCWC teams.
My good friend Vince Arriola once told me the kids in Western Bicutan are lucky to have me. But I think the opposite is true. I am lucky to have them. Their love for the game inspires me and brings me joy. Running this club for them is a privilege. I hope some of you can make the leap as well and start your own football club in your community.
If you’re interested in sponsoring WBFC or helping out in any way, please message me on my Facebook.
Our proposed kit and crest.