"What we lack in funding ... we have in passion"

Throughout Asia there are so many young men and women with such a burning desire to play football they create their own teams and get on with the game without proper equipment and official help. They are all worthy of assistance but we couldn't even mention but a tiny number of them.

When they are proactive to write to us with their story, however, we are happy to oblige and provide a touch of publicity. This is Regor Francis Dadivas' story of the Panitan Football Club in The Philippines ...

HOW DOES ONE go about accomplishing so much with so little? Ours is no World Cup qualification story. Not even a national league victory. But for the barefoot kids from the boondocks deprived of opportunities, bringing home bronze medal despite being under-equipped in the Western Visayas Regional Athletics Association Meet means more to them than we could ever fathom.

We found many such elementary and high school kids in our hometown of Panitan, Capiz, Philippines, my brother and I, former varsity players of the University of San Agustin Iloilo, were playing a fun game in our municipal plaza when we noticed these kids watching us in interests.

Though they were not familiar with the sport, they were enthusiastic. We detected in their natural ability; eagerness to learn; and the fact that this was giving them the sense of purpose.

Knowing the sports provides talented children a chance to engage in healthy, productive activity ... that it gets them out of the streets and into physical fitness; That it provides the youth with valuable foundation to practice the principles of teamwork, discipline, strategizing, alertness, planning and decision making; that it builds confidence, instills self worth; provides exposure ... And knowing that these children are deprived of such opportunities, we were inspired to give them the chance that they deserve.

Thus, the Panitan Football Club was born. The first football club in Western Visayas to be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

But the task was very difficult. We have no support from the schools and received very little from the local government. Football is an old, emerging sport in this country, neglected in the Province of Capiz and practically unheard in the town of Panitan until we materialized,

With such difficulty and with most of the funding coming out of our pockets, we were at least able to acquire balls. But it was heart-rending to see these kids play barefooted. On our rocky field, yet the pressed on because they were grateful to be given this chance to accomplish something. Until finally, they could no longer bear it and complained of footaches.

We were able to get our ex-teammates from Iloilo to donate their old shoes. . We also held a couple of fund raising raffles on which accumulates only about 7,000 pesos (US$ 130). This all went to bought ukay-ukay shop (second hand stores) for some second hand playable shoes.

But what we lack in funding, the boys made up for in the passion. And in our first foray into the tournament arena, at the Divisiion meet, our elementary boys (Under-12) dethroned the defending champion!

Our High School team (Under-16) reached the finals, and have the unique distinction of being the only team in thirteen years to score goals against the opponent!

The Western Visayas Regional Athletics Association Meet for elementary, held in 23-28 February 2005 in Iloilo City, was our second tournament, and we were able to bring home the Bronze Medal.

We can go farther with the talent and the drive that our boys have, yet there is so much we lack in finanacial, technical and equipment support. We need coaching and training seminars. We need training facilities, equipment, shoes, balls, shin guards, nets, uniforms and even socks. And most importantly, we need funds, for the team’s daily expenses, for tournament formation/participation and even for basic necessities during practices.

Thus, we are calling, individual persons, private companies,foundations, organisation, and foreign football clubs for assistance in the hopes that you can provide us with any of the things that our boys need. We want to spearhead the move to promote grassroots development in football and help the youth, starting with our town, and eventually throughout the Province of Capiz.

With your help, we can materialize these objectives. We have shown what we can do with so little. But together with your support we can do much more. With you behind us, our modest dreams can come true.

Please contact Roger Dadivas, Technical Development Officer, Panitan Football Club, Quezon St, Pob. Ilaya, Panitan, Capiz, Philippines. Mobile: +63 91 7303 1857; Tel: +63 36 634 0454. Emails: panitanfc@yahoo.com or regorfrancisd@yahoo.com. Website: www.panitan.tk