THE BENEFITS of education and a healthy lifestyle were some of the key goals of Coca-Cola Femsa, Roxas Foundation Inc. and Fundación Real Madrid in their Social Sports School program for 280 indigent children from Batangas and Central Azucarera de La Carlota, Negros Occidental.
In over 70 countries, 50,000 children benefit from the Social Sports School program run by globally renowned Spanish football club Real Madrid.
To get the ball rolling in the Philippines, Fundación Real Madrid sent coach Miguel Angel Montoya to Manila in 2014 to train 18 school teachers to become football coaches under the program, “They Play, We Teach.”
Today, the teachers-turned-coaches teach more than the rudiments of football to 5-to-12-year-old boys and girls on weekends. Mentor Ping Arroyo said teacher-coaches also teach mathematics, geography, English and values education to kids.
“The ultimate goal of the program is education through football,” explained Arroyo. “It isn’t an ordinary football program; it’s incorporating youth values, teaching children how they can become good citizens of our country.”
Arroyo admitted that parents were initially skeptical about the program, believing that sports and education were best pursued separately. But with teacher-coaches providing the perfect balance of academics and extra-curricular activities, the parents eventually supported the project and gave organizers positive feedback for the effort.
Six-year-old aspiring veterinarian and football player Angelo Billiones said the program not only helped kids like him achieve their goals, it also made the journey to reaching their dreams more fun. “We enjoy and we learn. We learn how to play the game—the techniques, tactics, how to set up, how to score,” said Billiones, whose parents work as service staff in Manila.
“Through football, we are looking not only at the physical development of children, but their psychosocial development as well,” said Bea Roxas, president of Roxas Foundation Inc., adding that the program aimed to transform a culture of violence into one of peace, instill hope for a better future, and influence children to become the best they can be.
According to Juan Dominguez, corporate affairs director of Coca-Cola Femsa, maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle is crucial to winning life. “Twenty years ago we did not have tablets, electronic devices; even television was not that widespread. Kids were out on the street playing,” he said.
Football and sports played a big role in Dominguez’s childhood and he wants today’s generation to experience the same joy he felt when he was a kid.
Since Coca-Cola Femsa is the biggest consumer of sugar in the country, Dominguez said: “We believe we need to work with the places where sugar is produced in order to enhance the quality of living in those places.”
“We are not necessarily looking for champions. We are not looking for someone like Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo. We are looking for champions in education,’’ said Rosa Roncal, international area manager of Fundación Real Madrid, who welcomed the children to the program.
These kids have countless challenges to face in the long journey to their dreams. Thanks to the education, self-esteem and values they learn from the Social Sports School program, they now have the confidence to pursue those dreams.