Morgan’s Diary – February 7, 2018
I have finally made it to Cebu, Philippines! I landed in the afternoon and met Rhosner (coach for boy’s Razkal team) and Ronan (coach for girl’s Razkal team). From the airport they drove me to where the teams were practicing. Along the drive I got to see what the Philippines looks like. It is very beautiful with rolling hills, open ocean and green plants. There was a bit more traffic on the roads compared to Sweden, and many more motor bikes and tricycles (three wheeled vehicles) which reminded me of Nepal. The population of the Philippines is just over 103 000 000 with the capital being Manila. It is archipelago, which means that the country is mainly made up of islands, 7,107 to be exact.
Ronan and Rhosner informed me that they have a new president who is managing the country better now since 2016, and it’s helped to reduce the number of criminal activities. Many of the locals who live here feel much safer than before. During the drive I could see some areas that looked very well off, while others were not. When I asked about the poverty level, Ronan and Rhosner replied that you have poorest of the poor are the ones who sleep on the streets, then you have very poor are the ones who only eat two times a day, and then the poor who have shelter.
So far, I have learned a few Filipino words,
Gwapa – Beautiful (female)
Gwapo – Beautiful (male)
Mabuhay – Good life
Kumusta – Hello
Palligro – Dangerous
The boy’s Razkal team was first created in 2010, while the girl’s team didn’t start until 2013. No one wanted to coach the girl’s because they thought that it would be difficult to handle them, nor are there many girl coaches here. When the girl’s team first started, they got underestimated by the other teams they played. They would say they were too small and malnourished, or that they weren’t good because they didn’t have uniforms or proper football shoes. No one took the girl’s team seriously in the beginning since they were the less privileged club in the Cebu Football Association. Many people are surprised to see the girl’s team still progressing till this day and winning games. Many other teams fear playing the girl’s because they have become such a successful team.
Hearing about the girl’s team and their struggles at the beginning made me even more excited to meet them. We arrived at their practice spot, which was a small clearing, owned by a private person, but open to the public. However, there were other people and children running around, and Ronan said that the person who owns the land can decide to kick them off whenever they want. When we pulled up, both the girl’s and boys’ team were running laps around the nets. We got out while they stretched. Once they finished, they all came running over to us, a little shy, nervous but also excitement in their eyes. They all greeted me by giving me blessing, which is common here in the Philippines. Each child took my hand and placed it to their forehead. I met around 50 kids that were there for the Razkal teams. It was such a surreal moment to meet them all face to face, as I have heard so much about them, seen photos of them and admire them all from afar.
I held a small introduction for them about who I was and who Lööf Foundation is. It began to get dark shortly after this, and all the children left for home. Ronan, Rhosner and I continued to have dinner with Ronan’s girlfriend Iron, Rhosner’s girlfriend Zen and Ronan’s parents. Now I am at Ronan’s house where I will sleep. Tomorrow I will buy more football items for the girl’s team with the donated money I had received in Sweden, and then will have dinner with the boy’s team and their parents.
It’s been a long journey here, but so incredible to meet everyone finally! Words cannot express how happy and excited I am to be here, and I am looking forward to the coming days!!