Friday, December 2, 2011

Beckham, LA Galaxy share moments of lasting football memories


Friday afternoon at the Rizal football stadium, the sun cast its bright rays unto the healthy green patch of pitch, where more than 200 kids did not mind the intense heat while football superstar David Beckham and his LA Galaxy teammates taught basic moves of football.

Gathered in the grandstand were several hundred people, mostly family and friends of the young football players and a throng of foreign and local news media.

Most of the spectators and media were armed with digital cameras trained on the players on the field, so they could capture images of the rare moments between the 2011 Major League Soccer champions and possible football stars of the next generation.

The football clinic lasted only two hours but the LA Galaxy and their new, young friends in Manila shared moments of lasting memories.

“Yep. the kids will remember this for the rest of their lives," said Roy Moore, coach of the Payatas FC. “I was so proud of the kids, a couple of them were nervous before going on but they soon got into the swing of it. It just shows how football can open the doors to things we thought impossible before."

On the football field, co-mingled with the kids whose parents could afford the clinic tickets were sponsored kids from Payatas FC, the Futkaleros of Tondo, and wards of the Tuloy sa Don Bosco, Bantay Bata, and Unicef.

Participation in the clinic cost P14,000 per kid. The package included a jersey, a soccer bag and the bragging rights to say Beckham and the LA Galaxy taught them football moves. The grandstand seats cost up to P3,000 each.

These sums for the clinic and the seats are hefty considering that the minimum daily wage in Metro Manila is about P400 and P14,000 is roughly equivalent to the monthly salary of some office workers.

One of the participants, eight-year-old Sean Buenaventura from Xavier School got his parents’ full support for the chance to meet Beckham.

“We thought it would be a good learning experience for him. It’s something that he won’t get in school," his mom, Stephanie, said.

Inspiring the next generation

“The clinic gives the kids a chance to mingle with the LA Galaxy players and that’s a big thing," said Mariano ‘Nonong’ Araneta, the president of the Philippine Football Federation.

While this is not exactly part of the recently re-launched grassroots program, Araneta explained that this will “inspire the young players to continue playing football."

The LA Galaxy will also definitely inspire an all-out game from the Azkals on Saturday evening. While the nationals may get starstruck with their idols, Araneta said the boys are more than stoked to play good football with them. — ELR, GMA News