• Pacquiao Loses, Tacloban Wins

    May 13th 2015. Community Impact Coach, Charlie Pomroy, from Cambodia implementing partner, Globalteer, gives us the play by play for our second year with Football 4 Life in Tacloban, Philippines.

    Day One

    I would consider myself somewhat of a traveler. I have traveled to many countries, seen amazing places and met amazing people along the way. I have also had my fair share of mishaps but nothing could have prepared me for my first away trip with CAC. With what should have been a routine journey from Siem Reap in Cambodia, where I have been based running a sports programme for the past three years, to Tacloban in the Philippines, turned into one of the longest journeys of my traveling career. After several cancellations and delays, a missed boat, and a nap outside a Wendy’s at Manila airport, my trip had racked up 37 hours. This was only bettered by Nora who had traveled for 50 hours from Indonesia.

    In true CAC style, fresh from the boat and with luggage in hand, we landed in Tacloban and got straight onto the soccer field. With half the day behind us, Nora and I quickly got stuck in and began with the warm up game; Circle of Friends, followed by the Messi games. First impression of the group in the Philippines is a good one. The group is enthusiastic, eager to learn and ready to have fun. I coach my first CAC game: Messi for Conflict Resolution. I have been eager to get my hands on the group and enjoy the session. What strikes me when I am coaching is just how open the group is. This throws me ever so slightly. When coaching in Cambodia it can sometimes be like pulling teeth to get them to talk and open up, so discussion time is hard. Cambodians are shy. It feels like they don’t want to trouble anyone with their problems, so they suffer in silence. What really hits me about this group, in the Philippines, is that they are so open and confident. They are aware of their issues and are ready to find ways to solve them. It’s really refreshing. The rest of the afternoon flies by.

    Despite being so very tired, working with a group like this gives you so much energy. You want to work harder because you can really see, instantly, the right notes are being hit. Nora and I discuss the next few days and become really excited about the prospect of challenging this group. Their surface answers are fantastic but can we get a little deeper? As coaches this is the kind of stuff you live for. This is why we do what we do. This is why it is the best job in the world. Roll on tomorrow!………. Oh there is the small matter of Mayweather & Pacquiao, not that anyone here in the Philippines has mentioned it…hehehe…!!!!

    Day Two

    The world title fight lost us most of the day, the Philippines came to a complete stand still to watch their national hero Pacquiao lose on points to Floyd Mayweather. It wasn’t the result we had hoped for. The whole country was upset. Some were angry, others were crying. This was a massive blow.

    Nora and I knew the group would be down so wanted to be high energy and give them lots of fun games to play. The group turned up on the field still visibly upset about the morning’s events. We started with a financial literacy game so that we could get the energy up from the off. It worked. We then launched into Perpetua Skills for Life followed by two more games.

    It was during Perpetua for Conflict resolution that something struck me and as I began to think about it further it brought a smile to my face. One of the female coaches, Patty, was moving the ball from one end of the field to the other using a very unorthodox method (the challenge of the game being to find different, creative ways to move the ball). The smile on her face was electric. She was beaming from ear to ear. I looked around and everyone was doing it. The weight of the loss that morning had gone. I was then reminded of a film I had watched about the Typhoon that had hit Tacloban in 2013, which featured Patty. She said in the film that soccer had helped her through that. Soccer had given her the strength to begin rebuilding and to begin dreaming again. This made me smile from ear to ear. This beautiful game has the power to change lives. No matter the loss, no matter the heartache there are some of us that are lucky enough to be able to turn to soccer and let that help us through.

    Tomorrow we go deeper and begin to challenge the group.

    Day Three

    It was our first full day with the group and as we arrived at the pitch Nora and I were very excited. We opened the day with Jack Wilshere. The group was in tip-top form and getting through the games very quickly. I coached three games with my favorite being Wilshere for Conflict Resolution. This game really focuses the group and they are forced to work together to find a solution to their problem.

    The group has some really strong female leaders here in the Philippines. It’s really refreshing to see. However, the most notable thing about today is the young boys, from a local drop in center, coming to life. They’re growing each and every session and it’s a wonderful thing to watch. At the beginning of the week they were unsure of their surroundings and very reluctant to get involved but as the days have gone by and as the games come thick and fast they are really beginning to get a sense of what sport for social impact means. The coach-backs tomorrow should be a lot of fun.

    Day Four

    Today was coach-backs and by far my favorite day so far. This is the day we really get to see how much has sunk in and we can begin developing social impact coaches. The coaches have an excellent morning. What I really love about the group is they are challenging themselves. They are not choosing easy games and just copying what they have been taught, they are really trying to adapt the games. The girls in particular today are excelling. As I mentioned before the group here in the Philippines has some extraordinary girls and some fantastic role models for the next generation.

    During lunch Nora and I watch one of the younger girls in the group spend the whole lunch break kicking a soccer ball against a wall. She is having a great time. What is wonderful about this moment is outside of the soccer field this girl is so very shy. She is nervous talking to people, she was reluctant to be part of photos and rarely interacts with other people. Put a soccer ball at her feet and she comes to life, her confidence grows, she takes on players and she runs at full speed. This girl doesn’t have a care in the world when she has a football at her feet.

    It is a great moment for Nora and me and one we enjoyed watching.

    Day Five

    Today was a day off. Nora and I used the time to get our admin work done and so forth. The highlight of the day though was not the fantastic hot chocolate I had or not having to set an alarm. It was the moment when Nora and I were walking to an ATM and across the road were three of the coaches from the course coaching a group of children. The young girl I mentioned from yesterday came running out and gave us both a giant hug.

    You cannot buy moments like that!!!