HE WAS on the sidelines. He would toss the ball back to the pitch, would cheer to whoever scored the goal and even take photos for the books.

From an onlooker, Francisco Dizon is an image of a father, who on a sunny weekend morning, made sure to be present at his son's football match.

But unfortunately, his son Miguel was not there.

Instead, Dizon was cheering for kids from underprivileged communities who bond one Sunday morning through the game of football.

"When my son was growing up, he loved to play soccer. I used to go with him and he would join football tournaments," he recalled.

Dizon said that football became a big part of their lives because they bond over the sport. He said Miguel dreamt of playing professionally.

But that dream ended when his son passed away in November 2008.

Together with his wife, Joyce, and two daughters, the family decided to organize a football tournament to honor and commemorate the memories of his son.

"When he passed away, we decided to organize this as a way of commemorating his memory," he said.

In 2010, "Miguel G. Dizon: Kopa ng Pagsilang" was founded.

From 80 participants during its first year, the local tournament which caters to kids from poverty-stricken communities in the metro grew to 300.

Now on its 7th year, the Dizon family, in partnership with Futkal Foundation, served children from 16 communities in Manila through a game of football held last October 23, 2016 at Don Bosco, Makati City.

Dizon said the venue is a far cry from their maiden game at Field of Dreams, a baseball field in Smokey Mountain in Tondo, a dumpsite area in Manila.

"We've come a long way. There are more kids now and we have other activities," said Dizon.

Aside from the football matches, the kids also participated in poster making contest and were treated to photo and face paint booths.

Chester Danay, the tournament director, didn't expect that they'll be on their 7th “Miguel G. Dizon: 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 sport, kids learned the values of disciple, hard work and respect.

"Mas maraming bata ngayon ang willing maglaro ng football. Nakakatuwa kasi nasi-share namin yung love of the game and respect sa bawat isa. (We teach them) to play hard and always remember na after ng game, manalo or matalo, it's all about friendship."

Dizon, on his part, said that seeing the kids enjoy the sport remind him of his son and how Miguel would run hours on the pitch.

He said organizing the event somehow brought a lot of good memories.

Asked what to expect in the years to come, 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," Dizon ended. (Sunnex)

Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.