MEMBERS of the Homeless World Cup Team Philippines who will be seeing action in the forthcoming 2010 Homeless World Cup set September 19 to 26 in Rio de Janero, Brazil arrives Thursday in Bacolod.

The eight-member squad led by Leopoldo C. Arnaiz, Committee Chairman of Team Philippines Homeless World Cup, will have series of tune-up matches against the local booters as part of their preparation to the upcoming leg.

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Of the eight players donning the team’s color, three came from Bacolod and Negros Occidental namely: Leopoldo Aragon from Brgy. Banago, Bacolod City; Tonie Mark Arenal; and Michael Quinlat, all of Talisay City

Among the teams they will be up to are the Bacolod United Football Club, Talisay City FC, West Negros University football team, a team selection led by former national standout and RP national head coach Norman Fegidero and a team of Bacolod Lone District Cong. Anthony Golez, among others.

Meanwhile, Arnaiz said that the team, upon their arrival at Bacolod-Silay Airport on July 15, will parade to Talisay City Hall to pay courtesy call to City Mayor Eric Saratan and visit the previous school of Arenal and Quinlat before proceeding to Bacolod, whom they will also meet Governor Alfredo Marañon, Congressman Golez and Mayor Evelio Leonardia.

Arnaiz earlier disclosed that these players were chosen based on the study conducted on various communities in the country. Among these players chosen came from the less fortunate families yet have the potential to excel not only as football players but as valuable members of the society.

He added one of their objectives in promoting these game is to improve the lives of these young football aspirants by doing way with drugs and alcohol, getting jobs, reunited with families and even going on to become players and coaches.

This Homeless World Cup Team is not much different: the dreams, the passion, the hope for glory, and the pride of country, except for one thing. Poverty has given them this opportunity. Poverty, the earth’s thief that takes away dignity, hope and opportunity, as if it has some divine right, is being used, in a twist of righteous fate, to give back that which it has always robbed.

The Homeless World Cup Team Philippines has this incredible opportunity to give hope, dignity and opportunity to the poor and homeless people in this nation.

The last two weeks have propelled this team into the national conscious, because of the willingness of major media networks to feature them, as ambassadors, rather than use them as show-biz.

Ultimately the success of the Homeless World Cup and Team Philippines will happen off the football pitch, in the rice fields and factories, with the sweat and sacrifice of us all, and long after this one time opportunity for these eight players has gone. But this game will not pass. It will stay and persist until poverty has been eradicated, and even then a ball will bounce, off some wall.