Football in the mall

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

THE normally quiet and wide corridor of SM Lanang Fountain Court was teeming with people that didn’t peter out until late in the afternoon. At some point, the security guards were already getting antsy, there were just too many children underfoot, they were not used to it.

What brought the hoards of children and their guardians and parents last December 14?

Football.

To be more precise, the Liga Bata 2014 Futsal League as organized by the Maharlika Sports Development Institute Inc. (MSDII), who after two years of trying to popularize grassroots sports development through futsal, has found a home and a popular destination in SM Lanang.

Futsal is a variant of football, except that it’s played in a smaller field and usually indoors. Derived from the Portuguese futebol de salao, it is roughly translated as hall football. Developed in Brazil and Uruguay in the 1930s because of lack of football fields, it is played more extensively worldwide, but is less popular in terms of audience to football.

Its beauty lies in the fact that it is small enough to be accommodated anywhere (with just rubber mats from anywhere between 25–42 m in length and 16–25 m in width) and thus allows the players to focus more on their footworks than in running the length.

“Sa football, mas madalas pagkakuha ng bola ipapasa mo na agad, tira-pasa,” MSDII executive director for operations and administration Engr. Edgar L. Te explained to Sun.Star Davao. “Sa futsal, maka-focus sa moves, dribble ba muna habang naga-posisyon ang mga teammates.”

This hones the child to be able to move on to the more popular soccer football, should he or she choose to.

“Mas nade-develop ditto ang skills,” Engr. Te added.

MSDII’s focus is a holistic development for children, he said, whether in school or out of school – who are inclined to sports.

“There’s not much we’re getting from this,” he clarified in presenting the idea of futsal development, but is confident that with all partners coming together, the city can lead the way in developing athletes even from poor communities.

He thus quoted Seth Godin, who wrote:”The challenge is to reorient for a world of abundance – specifically to focus on figuring out how you can add to the network before worrying about what you can take from it. If you add enough, the taking will take care of itself.”

Thus, aside from the leagues and tournaments it aims to launch starting 2014, MSDII is also into grassroots and youth development training programs, the institute has also lined up development programs for coaches, referees, and sports administrators, and is also into regional and global linkages for national and international solidarity through football and futsal, partnership development with football and futsal associations, and resource development fund drives.

The trainings for sports development will be handled by Engr. Te and MSDII technical director David Dwight B. Penano, who has been a Federation Internationale de Football Association (Fifa) panel of match commissioners for Asian qualifiers from February 2011 to present, with the assistance of assistant technical director coach Noel M. Presto.

This early, Sun.Star Davao had already partnered with MSDII and talks are to be finalized with regards a summer league. In the opeing day alone, more than 260 children registered for some sample plays from morning till late afternoon.

Other partners aside from SM Lanang and Sun.Star are Globe, Fountain International School, Cebu Pacific, European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines and Gawad Kalinga in cooperation with the Department of Education, Davao City Police Office, the Province of Davao del Norte, Bantay Bata 163, and Pilipinas Futsal.

This early, SM is considering introducing the same in other branches, although MSDII is more inclined to test it out in SM Lanang first.
SM Lanang mall manager Jerome I. Yeo welcome the activity as it goes along the grain of SM’s vision toward the development of children and the youth.

MSDII executive director for external affairs and public relations Peter Philip D. Lat is excited about suggestions to hold the MSDII programs nationwide, but is more inclined to focus first on what can be honed further into a successful holistic sports development program at SM Lanang at least for one year. But with the prospect, they are broadening their horizon to be able to reach out to more children.

At the opening, Gawad Kalinga (GK) brought it over a hundred children from their different communities regionwide.

Lat foresees more children from poor communities to be able to join their programs through partnerships with similar groups like GK.

During the start of their community programs two years back, they were able to organize children from Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) communities and military camps to play.

“Sports is a vehicle that can bring all these children together,” he said, “because we are doing all these for the children, mayaman ka ba o mahirap. From here, we can discover talents from the grassroots.”

This early, aside from futsal, the program now includes tchoukball as Penano is also executive technical officer of the Tchoukball Association of Davao.

More groups are signifying their interest to partner with MSDII as todate, this is yet the only group that focuses on a comprehensive development of sports whether it be in the private or public sector.

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