They may have physical challenges like cerebral palsy (CP) but the ailment was never a hindrance in bringing out the best in individuals who have big hearts and the passion to succeed, especially in sports like football.
“Sabi ng mga nanay na isama ko daw yung anak ko (sa football practice) at subukan lang. Tapos nagulat na lang ako na nasisipa niya yung bola. Hindi ko ine-expect na magagawa niya yun dahil di naman siya involved sa kahit anong sport dati. Sabi ko tuloy na dapat pala dati ko na siyang sinasali sa mga ganito (The mothers told me to bring my child and just try it out. I was surprised that my child can kick the ball. I didn’t expect that he can do it because he was never involved in any sport before. I realized that I should have brought my child before to this kind of activity),” said Marinela S. Kaabay whose eldest child Kenneth has cerebral palsy among other disabilities.
The activity Kaabay referred to was the 1st CP Football Day where kids with cerebral palsy from Metro Manila and nearby provinces gathered for a friendly game of football at the La Salle Greenhills in Mandaluyong City. Around 50 CP individuals, including Kaabay’s child and four others from her area, ran and kicked the elusive ball to their hearts’ content despite the scorching afternoon heat.
The 1st CP Football Day is just one of the efforts to have more children with CP get into sports. It received a big boost when Globe Telecom entered into a partnership with the Henry V. Moran Foundation, the Philippine Sports Association of the Differently Abled (PHILSPADA), and CP Football Philippines, the prime movers of CP football in the country.
Globe gave the foundation and its beneficiaries the much-needed communications platform to reach individuals with CP who live in various parts of the country who may be interested in football. The program also complements Globe Telecom’s “TM Sports Para sa Bayan,” a long-term program that helps kids develop and grow in a sport that they love.
“We want to use the power of sports to make a difference in the lives of individuals especially those who belong to the marginalized sectors of society. Over the past several years, Globe has gone beyond business by offering basketball and football development programs to underprivileged kids. This time, we want to extend our support to individuals with cerebral palsy and help them pursue their dreams,” said Miguel Bermundo, Head of Globe Citizenship and Advocacy.
CP Football is similar to a regular football game but the rules were tweaked to make the sport more attractive, accessible and fit for those with cerebral palsy and other neurological conditions. The playing field is smaller and game time lasts for one hour with a 15-minute half-time break.
Aside from having fun, the 1st CP Football Day also saw the formal introduction of CP football in the Philippines as well as the search for CP individuals with the potential to become members of the “CP Rascals,” the team that will represent the Philippines in the 2022 Asian Para Games.
To support the search as well as the training, living expenses and other needs of the players, interested groups and individuals may send their donation to the following:
Account Name: The Henry V. Moran Foundation, Inc.
Account Number: 2251-0005-33
Bank Name: Bank of the Philippine Islands
Bank Address: Greenhills Missouri Branch
Missouri cor. Nevada Sts. North-East Greenhills,
San Juan, Metro Manila
Swift Code: BOPIPHMM
Dr. Anna Raganathan, Consultant Psychologist and Board Member of the International Federation of CP Football, said that based on research, individuals with cerebral palsy who have consistent exercise can recover to become almost normal. “Even when they get physical therapy already, the addition of sports can make them stronger and help them avoid injuries because they get to develop their bones and muscles.”
She also told the parents that they don’t have to worry if their kids are still too young or won’t be selected as a member of CP Rascals. The program will continue even after the first team is already formed and it will even become the training ground of CP individuals who want to start young. “It’s about time that everyone should look at the abilities of individuals with cerebral palsy rather than their disabilities,” Dr. Raganathan added.
It was, perhaps, a tiring afternoon for the kids who sweated it out via football together with their cheering parents and supporters. But other than the sweat and the exhausting physical efforts exerted by the kids to play football, Dr. Raganathan emphasized that aside from having the right to play sports, more importantly, CP kids also have the right to have fun.
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