Pinoy football players fly to Barcelona to meet idols
Milo FC Barcelona, a prestigious invitational football camp, sent nine young Filipino footballers to Barcelona, Spain to train with other boys and meet football idols.
With the FIFA World Cup 2018 still fresh in the hearts and minds of football fans across the world, Milo continues to champion the values of the international quadrennial event among the Filipino youth through the Milo FC Barcelona (FCB) Road to Barcelona program.
Now on its second year, Milo FCB Road to Barcelona, a prestigious invitational football camp, created a stir in the local football community when it first sent nine, young Filipino footballers to Barcelona, Spain in 2017. Proudly representing key football clubs and schools in Metro Manila, Laguna, and Cebu, the deserving athletes embarked on a nine-day journey headlined by trainings facilitated by FC Barcelona’s very own players, as well as a special session with football legend, former FC Barcelona and French National Team player Eric Abidal.
The kids also got to interact with 55 other young players from Australia, Colombia, Jamaica, New Zealand, Tahiti, Thailand, Singapore, and Panama, and together learned to play as one team, keeping in mind Milo and FC Barcelona’s shared values of HEART (humility, effort, ambition, respect, and teamwork).
Lorenz Albert Tortona, 13, is a recipient of the Xavier Award, a recognition from fellow students and teachers for those who excel in both academics and extra-curricular activities, and one of the model student-athletes in the Barcelona delegation. It was his first time to go to Europe and the whole experience broadened his perspective of the sport.
"I learned that we always have to play for our team and not for ourselves," shared Lorenz, who was overwhelmed when he saw football greats Lionel Messi and Eric Abidal in the flesh. "We always have to respect our teammates, coaches, referees and, especially, our opponents."
The lessons he learned, Lorenz said, will not only make him a better football player, but will also help him in his everyday life. A year after the trip to Barcelona, Lorenz said the experience improved his personality and helped him become a better leader, student, and friend.
Another talented and deserving football player who joined the trip was Joseph Kyne Garces from Don Bosco Technical College-Cebu. “My experience in the camp playing with some of the best kids in the country helped me grow as an athlete and as a student by boosting my self-confidence," said the 13-year old Josh.
His mom, Jo Ann, couldn't be more appreciative of what the training has done for her son. "As a parent, I try to raise my child to have good values over and above gaining knowledge and skills," she said. "I find the training in football to be an effective partner in rearing my son to have the right values, such as humility in both victory and defeat, respect, and teamwork. These values made my son well-liked by his peers and more confident in his abilities.”
Also included in the delegation was 13-year-old Enzo Courbet, an 8th grade student at Brent International School-Manila. Influenced by his dad who played the game a lot growing up and by his cousins in France who treat the sport as religion, Enzo started playing football when he was 4. Considering his roots, football could very have been his main priority, but his mom, Marizel, said that Enzo’s biggest challenge was balancing his academic standing as an (first) honors student while fueling his passion for the sport.
“The Milo FC Barcelona program emphasized and impressed upon Enzo the value of discipline, which is very crucial in excelling both in academics and football,” Marizel said.
For his part, Enzo was very appreciative of the work ethic he gained from the Barcelona experience. “I learned the importance of putting more effort and energy in everything that I do, whether on the pitch or in the classroom,” Enzo said. “Seeing all the talented football players from other countries, I realized that I should not be complacent because there are others who are better than me.”
Kevin Hadap, a grade school pupil at the Diosdado P. Macapagal Elementary School, also made it to the nine-man delegation. Growing up in an underprivileged neighborhood where it was more common to play football in the streets, Kevin’s journey is not one without hurdles. He had to grapple with schooling during his early years playing the sport. “Dati, hindi yan mahilig mag-aral,” said Kevin’s father Conrado. “Sa katunayan, tatlong beses siya umulit ng Grade 1.”
Fortunately, there were some football coaches from the nearby Gawad Kalinga (GK) football team who saw Kevin’s potential and inspired him not only to play the sport but also pursue his studies. Kevin has since become a GK scholar, currently balancing his academics with his passion for football. While performing well in school in recent years, Kevin has been also recognized as the Gawad Kalinga MVP. His resolve to finish his studies and excel in the sport is what fuels his bigger amibtions in life.
“Hinikayat siya ng mga coach niya na mag-aral ng mabuti at magkaroon ng determinasyon para maituloy ang pag-football niya. Hindi siya makakapaglaro kapag mababa ang grades niya,” said Conrado.
The nine-day trip instilled in Kevin, a fan of FCB star Lionel Messi, the rewards of determination and hard work. “Nagpapasalamat ako na nakasama ako sa Barcelona dahil nakita ko ang mga idol ko na maglaro at ako rin mismo nakapaglaro kasama ang mga players mula sa ibang bansa. Na-inspire ako na mas galingan pa ang pag-football ko dahil sa lahat ng natutunan ko sa Spain.”
Last September 8-9, the Milo FC Barcelona Road to Barcelona Philippines Camp was held in Cebu City to give even more young Filipinos from the Visayan region, also considered the country’s football hotbed, the opportunity take part in the prestigious football program. The local, invitational camp gave the participating young booters the opportunity to train and learn from FC Barcelona Youth Academy’s very own coaches, Jordi Aguilar and Albert Batalla. Those who will be selected, along with other identified players from various Milo markets worldwide, will go on a once-in-a-lifetime experience to train, tour, and watch a live football match in Barcelona, Spain.
Local coaches who assisted in the two-day camp also gained a lot from the coaching expertise and football techniques and strategies that the FCB Youth Academy coaches shared.
The FIFA World Cup fever may have ended and it will take another four years for football fans to witness this spectacle, but Milo hopes to keep the excitement and the love for local football alive. As Robbie De Vera, Consumer Marketing Manager for Milo Philippines, put it, "Our goal is not only to help advance Philippine football by enriching coaches and players through the partnership, but we hope to get more and more kids into sports and help instill life values that will make them champions in life."