When Peter Amores, founder of the modern Filipino recreational game Futkal (Futbol sa Kalye), visited Bantayan Island, he witnessed children throwing sand balls at each other, with one sand ball landing on a child’s face, putting a halt to the game.
“All of a sudden, those happy moments turned into a dramatic, painful one,” said Peter. He recalled asking for the name of the game to which one the children answered, “Wala, laban laban lang. Kung sino ang pinakamalakas, siya ang panalo.” (None. We only play. Whoever is the strongest wins). He thought that the boys have the right mindset but was playing the wrong game.
Bantayan Island was one the most affected areas when Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) struck the country, leaving countless families homeless in its wake. To help its youth deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Peter partnered with organizations such as Mifalot Education and Society Enterprises to create the Field of Hope Program.
The three-year program provides seminars, workshops, futbol training, and regular tournaments that engage recipients both physically and mentally. Children figuratively step into the “futbol field of life” to discover themselves, be a part of a team, forge friendships, explore new places, and adopt a positive and goal-oriented mindset. They also become empowered with a purpose in life and enlightened with hope for a better future.
Thus far, the Field of Hope program has touched the lives of 780 people, with all its beneficiaries becoming inspiring citizens for positive change. Some have joined the official Futbol Club Bantayan team, proudly representing the island at provincial meets. Others have started coaching their own teams, encouraging more kids to go through the same uplifting journey.
“Now I can say you will see the same kids—this time not throwing sand balls at each other—but playing futbol as a team,” says Peter. “They empower each other to be better, with the same mindset of never giving up… ‘Laban laban lang, ang pinakamalakas panalo.’ (We only play. Whoever is the strongest wins).