After the storm: Tacloban City and the Philippines
On 8th November 2013, one of the most powerful and deadliest typhoons ever recorded in the country struck the Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) made landfall and wreaked havoc in Tacloban City and other parts of the Visayan region, killing upwards of 6,300 people and displacing more than 4.3 million, 1.7 million of whom are children.
Our photographer from Tacloban City, Philippines is “Football For Life” Coach Patrina Caceres. Football For Life is FundLife International’s flagship programme, and it aims to restore childhood to children through organised and regularly scheduled 'play' sessions in communities across Tacloban, using local coaches such as Patrina. We spoke to Patrina about her coaching and the photos she took.
How did you become involved with Football For Life?
Fundlife recruited local coaches with expertise to give psychosocial therapy through sports to children who are survivors of Typhoon Haiyan. I saw the vision that the Football for Life program had for the children, the coaches and the football community, so I took the plunge and became one of the program’s pioneer coaches.
What did you try to show with the photos? Was there any wider meaning?
I tried to show photos of our players - children and youth from different communities and from different background, genders, social status, and religion - coming together to play football and learn values that are applicable to life in general - teamwork, perseverance, fun, motivation and putting heart into what you do.
Where were the photos taken?
Most photos were taken in Tacloban City. The photos show our Football for Life players in training and tournaments. Some were taken at the Grandstand in Ormoc, a two-hour ride away from Tacloban, where our players entered a tournament.
Is there a specific player with an inspirational story?
Dave, one of our players from a far-flung village in Tacloban City, is an inspiring boy. Despite his physical disability, he has incredible will. He doesn't see his incapacity as a hindrance to play football, because, as he says, "I use my feet to play". He is one of the most skilled players on the team. He also believes that educating himself is a way for him to have more opportunities in the future. Most importantly, Dave is a kind-hearted kid who leads his teammates, takes initiative, and takes action.
How did football and Football For Life help after the storms in Tacloban?
Playing football and coaching again have personally helped me overcome the trauma of the storm. I think it's the same for all the players we have dealt with over the past two years. When they enroll in the free football training sessions with Football for Life, they get to meet new friends, learn football, and most importantly, the players look forward to new possibilities, looking back on the storm as a temporary setback.
How does football help Filipinos come together?
With a growing following, football helps Filipinos show support to the national team, as well as coming together at the grassroots and youth development level. It promotes our pride in being Filipino. With football we have found a good sport for us because we are not as tall as people from other countries. I am not saying that basketball is not a good sport; I just do not think it is the right sport for Filipinos!
How has football changed your life?
Football helped me get over my physical condition - asthma. Furthermore, it has developed my leadership and will to stand up for what is right. It has also taught me to be able to deal with people of different backgrounds.
What is your ambition with football?
My ambition is to travel the world and to be the best coach my players can have. I would also like to coach at a national level, although I still dream of playing for a school as goalkeeper when I study for my Master's.