FORMER AZKAL. Now Kaya FC starting goalkeeper Ref Curesma signs autographs of Zambo Sur kids during the ‘Football For A Better Life’ Zamboanga de Sur leg in 2016. (Photo by Jack Biantan)
By Jack Biantan
I HAVE never heard of British Insurance company Pru Life UK until they got involved with Philippine football, particularly the ‘Football For a Better Life’ grassroots development program and the Philippine Azkals.
Its’ involvement with the Azkals for the Russia World Cup 2018 Asian qualifying tournament raised their profile in the country.
When the Azkals got eliminated, the company continued its’ support for the beautiful game through the ‘Football For a Better Life’ series of football festivals and clinics all over the country in 2015-16.
Before that, Pru Life UK was also one of the sponsors of the Little Azkals U11 team that trained at Loughborough University in England in 2014.
The company also supported the documentary film made by Baby Ruth Villarama “Little Azkals: Pursuit of the World Cup Dream”. The documentary earned the company a Silver Anvil award in the 50th Anvil Awards for Public Relations- Special Interest Category.
The years 2015 and 2016 were the banner years for the company as their profile continued to go up as the ‘Football For a Better Life’ festivals and clinics went into full swing spreading all over the country. The company sponsored 10 tournaments in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
I even attended three of the festivals of the ‘Football For a Better Life’ here in CdO in 2015, then in Ginggoog City and Pagadian last year.
There were explosions of football in all the cities where I went to experience the tournaments. In the CdO leg, my son’s team joined while in Ginggoog I brought my Lumbia Raptors FC boys where we also met the other half of the Younghusband brother James.
The Pagadian leg was also memorable as I let my son join the clinic and met my former player and once upon a time Azkal, Ref Curesma.
Organizers of the the project promised to have a bigger ‘Football For a Better Life’ this year. But since January, I have never heard of the project and Pru Life UK, until recently when two articles came out of Facebook that there were in fightings among the organizers and officials of the company. The fighting then has forced the company to pull out its support to not only the ‘Football For a Better Life’ project but totally its support of the beautiful game.
Pru Life UK’s help in promoting football all over the country was a big boost to the beautiful game. Never mind the Azkals as the national team could always find sponsors. The main casualty of the pull out is grassroots football.
Pru Life UK is British owned. The beautiful game was born and developed in the UK. Why can’s the organizers of ‘Football For a Better Life’ and Pru Life UK sit down once and for all and talk for the sake of football and our children.
Spend for the development of youth football. Do not keep the pockets of your lawyers full. (firstname.lastname@example.org)