IT SEEMED just yesterday when the girls had their first encounter with a football and they butted and dribbled the ball in their sandals, slippers, and house clothes.
Now, they have the making of real winners.
It was hot scorching Saturday at Tiongco Football Field. Shouts, cheers echoed as 34 teams under different categories competed in the Mayor Inday Sara and Rody Duterte 25th Kadayawan Sportsfest Football Tournament last August 21, 2010.
For the first time ever in Davao football history, two football teams of girls representing the socially labeled street groups called "gangs" were official participants.
They were entered in the Football for Good (FFG) category, and won.
Tambayan B also known as Nakamata Kickers won first place, Tambayan United ranked third. In between the two teams of streetgirls at second place was the Ateneo de Davao University Lady Knights.
The Tambayan teams are the girls supported by Tambayan Center for Children’s Rights, Inc., and are proud members of Nagkahiusang Kabataan Aron Katungod Matagamtaman (Nakamata), an alliance of girls in gangs who advocate the protection from all forms of abuse and promotion of children's rights.
Off to a rousing win too are the girls "playmates", the Boys Zonta/Muslim who got the first place, and the Barangay 22-C "A" who got third place in the boys' division. At second place was the Davao Football Association Black Knights.
Winning in the Kadayawan Football Tournament is just one of the beginnings of the girls' way in football game. What makes the world of difference is how these street girls made it.
The Nakamata Kickers and the Tambayan United teams come from the barangay partners of Tambayan Center at Quezon Boulevard and families at the rotunda of Osmeña Park. They are among poorest of the poor with barely a roof above their heads. The girls wake up every 5:30 in the morning or sweep up after their last class in the afternoon every Monday and Wednesday to keep with their schedule of practice.
During these periods of practice and physical exertions, many of the girls make do without no additional sustenance. In the families they belong to, family budget does not include snacks. Some even have to make do with just two meals a day.
Expectedly, the physical condition of the girls is not appropriate for any sports-related activity.
In fact, of the 24 girls who participated in the tournament, 21 of them ages 10-16 years old weigh only between 15 to 50 kilograms. And of these 21 girls, at least 15 of them are considered underweight for their age.
Generally, football requires stamina, wellness, and a healthy diet. The girls get by with just stamina, all these for their dream to become professional football players someday.
Nonetheless, one important key in the fulfillment of these girls dream in football arena is sustenance of public support.
"A person not only needs to know how to fish, the person needs to have the freedom to do it and a place to do it. That's where community comes in. We have to help each other, and we feel government has a very important role therein," is a quote from Bill Ayres that is appropriate in describing what these girls really need.
Let us continue to help them. Their lives are realities that mirror of how people, families and communities are treating them.
Playing the football is just a venue for streetgirls to find something more in their lives than just being beaten up for committing a mistake, imagine or real, imprisoned because of hunger, raped because of a night out with friends, or killed just because one wants to live.
What these girls need are families, government leaders, and a public that are honest in dealing with them, compassionate in leading them their way, and just at all times in relating to them.
For their latest victory, the girls would like to thank you the following individuals and groups who have given them support:
* The Davao Football Association (DFA) for unselfishly sharing their resources and talents as trainors and coaches in their training which started May of this year. The DFA who is presented by Mr. Noel Presto as the Head Trainor along with his two young coaches Merlo Albano and Jayric Iligan;
* The Parents of the Ateneo de Davao High School soccer players who collectively donated things for the girls to complete the requirements to become official participants;
* The families of the children who patiently attend to them in the days when they have their training/practices most especially those parents/guardians during the tournament who expressed their support by preparing the children's meals and snacks while cheering and egging the girls on -- Nelfa Adyong, Isidra Cadiz, Ma. Nida Cahulogan, Moises Eyo, Crisanta Lamoste, Rosita Lintucan, Gloria Galit, Danica Masipequina, Eleuteria Nadong, Dolores Ligan, Elmer Tabio, and Ofelina M. Villanueva.
* The barangay officials of Barangay 22-C headed by Barangay Captain Delia Zafra, Kagawad Victoria Luceno, Barangay Sec. Lilia Balones and their Barangay 22-C "A" boys team, who were the girls' colleague in football practices;
* The Kainan sa Artiaga of Mr. Jimmy and Mrs. Minerva Duenas, who unconditionally assisted in the provision of the children's snacks.
This had never happened before in the lives of the street girls. It was a soul-inspiring for all of them. There are and will be more football moments that will come in their way to which they would happily share to all Davaoneos.
With this achievement, the girls are looking forward to their participation in the Football for Good Championship (FFGC) competion in La Salle, Greenhills, Manila.
Help is still needed, and anyone who has something to spare can contact Tambayan Center for Children's Rights, Inc. at Tel. # 222-1025.
The Tambayan "B"/Nakamata Kickers members:
1. Shella Jean Amarillo
2. Irish Joy Biating
3. Lournidie Cahulogan
4. Rachel Diale
5. Ferry Eyo
6. Rhuby Joy Lamoste
7. Cyril Samplidan
8. Princess Bai Samplidan
9. Elizabeth Tabio
10. Emelia Tabio
11. Ester Tangpos
12. Rona Mae Unggay
13. Rosenda Villanueva
The Tambayan United team members:
1. Rebecca Alkuino
2. Hannah Marie Cadiz
3. Nicole Campaner
4. Shella Jean Cuevas
5. Ruby Rose Lamoste
6. Jennifer Lintucan
7. Live Mangayaay
8. Khayna Masipequina
9. Charlyn Nadong
10. Yllana Jane Samplidan
11. Jessiel Taladua
12. Salome Villanueva