NOFA Cup gives hope to young and budding Marawi skybooters

WHEN the fourth edition of the Negros Occidental Football Association (NOFA) Cup kicks off on May 30, at the Sta. Maria Football Field in Bacolod City, 24 teams from all over the Philippines are set to experience a competitive tournament amid a fun and friendly atmosphere. One of participating teams is a squad from Marawi, Lanao del Sur.

Amid their limited resources and relative inexperience, Team Marawi Ground Zero is forging ahead in joining the NOFA Cup 2019 with plenty of passion and spirit. The team is composed of boys from the war-torn region of the Philippines, which is now going through a period of rebuilding. Two football coaches, Coshary Jialil and Esperidion Paran, revived the sport of football to help the youth of Marawi recover from the pain of the conflict.

“After ng giyera, napansin ko na maraming palaboy lang sa loob ng campus... So, ang ginawa ko, dahil sa football, inipon ko sila,” said Team Marawi Ground Zero Coach Coshary Jialil.

At the prodding of Mr. Lemuel Ypil Mapula, president of the Iligan-Lanao Norte-Lanao Sur Regional Football Association (Ilnosurfa), Team Marawi Gound Zero was organized.

“Nito lang kami nakabuo ng team pagkauwi ng maraming mga bata,” said Mr. Esperidion “Bingay” Paran, teacher at Mindanao State University (MSU) and also a coach of Team Marawi Ground Zero.

Young players already playing for Matampay United under Coach Coshary and MSU-based players under Coach Bingay were recruited. But any boy who was interested was also welcome at the practices, even if he was out-of-school. Coach Bingay got more recruits when word got out that he was able to bring two players from Marawi to a Real Madrid Football Clinic in McKinley Hill Stadium in Taguig. “Dati ako yung nag-iimbita sa mga bata na maglaro, ngayon ako na yung kinukulit nila para mag-practice,” says Coach Bingay.

After almost a year since it was formed, Team Marawi Gound Zero will now be playing their first big match. The players, many of whom have never traveled outside Lanao del Sur, are excited to visit Bacolod. Coach Bingay is grateful that his players are getting exposure at the NOFA Cup. He says, “Maraming salamat sa mga taga-NOFA na tumulong para ma-realize ang wish ng mga bata na maglaro... Talo o panalo, basta laro lang kami.”

A warm Negrense welcome awaits Team Marawi Ground Zero when they visit Negros Occidental later this month.

NOFA Cup 2019 will commence on May 29 with welcome ceremonies, matches from May 30 to June 2.


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