THREE hundred kids from underprivileged communities in Metro Manila played the beautiful game of football at the "Miguel G. Dizon EuroKopa 2016: 7th Kopa ng Pagsilang" at Don Bosco, Makati City.

The whole day weekend event, organized by Cebuano couple Francisco and Joyce Dizon and in partnership with Futkal Foundation, serves as tribute to their late son, Miguel, who passed away in November 2008.

"When my son was growing up, he loved to play soccer. When he passed away, we decided to organize this as a way of commemorating his memory," Mr. Dizon said.

He recalled that when they staged the first Kopa ng Pagsilang in 2010, they only had 80 participants and the kids played at Field of Dreams, a baseball field in Smokey Mountain, a dumpsite area, in Tondo, Manila.

Fast forward to 2016, the same group is now serving 300 kids from 16 poverty-stricken communities.

"Mas maraming bata ngayon ang willing maglaro ng football. Nakakatuwa kasi nasi-share namin yung love of the game and respect sa bawat isa," said Chester Danay, the tournament director.

Danay himself did not expect that they'll be on their 7th Kopa ng Pagsilang. He said more kids are encouraged to play the game of football.

"We didn't expect na nung umpisa ay gathering lang siya ng konting bata tapos lalaki na yung event ng ganito. The kids feel blessed kasi it's a fun event. They get uniforms, prices, and bond with friends," he said.

Danay added that through the game of football, kids will learn the values of disciple, hard work and respect.

"(We teach them) to play hard and always remember na after ng game, manalo or matalo, it's all about friendship," he added.

As for Julius Geronimo, one of the coaches in the tournament, he's looking forward every year to the Kopa ng Pagsilang as it helps kids to enjoy the sport.

He said it's also a good way of engaging with other participants from neighboring cities.

"May chance na yung mga bata na maglaro and at the same time, na-enjoy nila yung whole event. Ang target talaga is hindi manalo but to enjoy the game and ma-expose sila sa game. Hindi lang puro practice but makita yung development nila sa laro," he said.

Geronimo brought along about 60 kids from Leveriza, Pasay City.

Asked what to expect in the years to come, Mr. Dizon said they are keen of expanding the tournament.

Aside from the under-10 and 13 competitions, they are planning to organize football matches for kids under-16 and an all-girl division.

"We are now on our 7th year and some of the guys here are big na. They used to play as small kids and now you'll see their progress. It's an honest to goodness tournament. It's a good feeling of camaraderie among the kids and we hope to continue in years to come," Mr. Dizon ended. (Sunnex)