“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.”
– Anatole France
It was going to be a very hot summer day and yet that Saturday morning, the children arrived without any care for the weather. At 8AM some were still sleepy, children rubbing their eyes to ward off sleep and being prodded by parents to wake up and join in the fray of unbridled fun. Some of the early-risers were kicking the soccer balls in to the net. Other children dragged their parents in tow instead. To an adult mind, well at least mine, it was such a sacrilege to wake up so early on the morning on a Saturday; but once the drills and the game began, everyone’s want for sleep completely disappeared and eyes were on the field.
“Both feet! Both feet!” cheered a father while watching his 6-year-old boy jumping sideways to accomplish one of the drills.
When FIFA licensed Coach Miguel demonstrated how to dribble a soccer ball, a young girl with straight jet black hair called out, “I know how to do it, coach!”
Meanwhile on the other side of town, a couple of teenage coaches took over one-half of a basketball court. There’s no grass here. The barangay’s basketball court had to do and football drills were done while the adults played basketball on the other side. Already, you could tell the difference between the two football classes. The kids at Valle Verde wore cleats and shinguards, while the boys at the basketball court only wore regular rubber shoes. You could even hear a change in language. A smattering of English words bobbed around colloquial Tagalog only because there were just some football terms that possessed no translation.
How are the two football classes related to each other?
Both are actually football classes organized by Dream Big Pilipinas where Coach Miguel Bermundo spearheads the Saturday football movement of big dreams and second chances. Little did the children at Valle Verde know, their Saturday morning drills opened up new opportunities among other children and young adults. Every peso raised by the Valle Verde classes funds the Dream Big Pilipinas Football Academy at sites where underprivileged and homeless youth are common in Mandaluyong and Pasig. Football is only part of it though. Young people from ages 7 to 17 are given a chance at a different way of life as they enter into a holistic program that provides academic assistance, and values formation.
See, for example, the photo below.
The sprightly 14-year-old leading the stretching exercises in Valle Verde is Carlo Bajalan who lives in Arkong Bato, Pasig. He resides in a Gawad Kalinga Community and has been playing football for more than 5 years under Coach Miguel’s wing. For several months, Bajalan was trained by Dream Big Pilipinas and has been apprenticing during the football clinics in Valle Verde.
There’s never been a more innovative program in sports where beneficiaries can actually use their skills and talent to give back to those who gave them the opportunity in the first place. I couldn’t help but call it subversive football. Football, after all, only became so popular among young people when the Philippine Azkals started winning games against other countries for the past year. Aside from that, the Philippines is a country whose love for basketball can rival the United States. In fact, I think we have the 2nd oldest Basketball Association in the world, the US’ NBA being the first.
If a social enterprise’s business model incorporates a second bottomline to advance a social good aside from the responsibility of earning a profit, then Dream Big Pilipinas has a good thing going. If you are interested in volunteering at the football clinics and give opportunities to young people, you can contact Starbucks Philippines who is supporting Dream Big Pilipinas efforts. You can email them through firstname.lastname@example.org. Do something fun this summer, like helping kids access great opportunities. Who knows? It might open up new opportunities for you too.