They might become the next Chieffy Caligdong, the Ilonggo football superstar and captain of the famed Philippine team Azkals.

Ilonggo kids as young as six to 12 years come alive and kicking with passion, skills and perseverance to push their way to a brighter future in the exciting field of football on July 20-22 in Sta. Barbara, Iloilo, touted as a football capital in the country.

The energetic kids are starting young and learning the basic techniques of football as they actively participate in the three-day Kasibulan Grassroots Coaching Course and Festival (GCF), a Philippine Football Federation (PFF) project conducted thru the Iloilo Football Association (IFA) and sponsored by Pagcor.

The Sta. Barbara leg is the fourth of a series in the province covering the second district.

Some 60 teacher coaches and 500 children participate in the football clinic, said Coach Dan Padernal, an IFA instructor who hails from Sta. Barbara.

Kasibulan project director Boni Ladrido and technical director Aris Caslib and IFA instructors Marc Hermel Agriam and Padernal spearhead the activity.

Kasibulan: 2012 Grassroots Development Program aims to discover and develop potential local football talents from the grassroots level and breed new Azkals in the process.

The football festivals serve as avenue for the PFF to identify the future Emelio Caligdongs and Ian Aranetas of the country, both hail from Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo.

The revived Kasibulan Project is part of a seven-year development plan for the Philippines to qualify for 2019 FIFA Under-17 World Cup and 2016 Asian U-13 and U-14 Championship, stressed PFF President Mariano Araneta.

Each festival targets closed to a thousand children who have a knack for football from all over the country. Young players are encouraged to participate in the big sporting event being staged in various provinces across the country.

These football festivals feature coaches’ and educators’ courses, participant skills assessment and training and small-sided matches.

In addition, a database is being created to help PFF track down promising football players and train them for future competitions.

Kasibulan is being undertaken in partnership with Asian Football Development Program (AFDP) and is a recipient of a P20-million donation from Pagcor.

Grassroots football can be played everywhere, by everyone, involving everybody – even in a rugged field – giving kids the opportunity to play and have fun and develop friendship and sportsmanship, said PFF.

PFF aims to create a football environment that transcends cultural differences; encourage LGUs, DepEd, and other stakeholders to support and promote the sport; integrate fun atmosphere, value formation, interaction and love for the game with respect; and develop and strengthen grassroots educators.

Philippine Olympic Committee chairman Monico Puentevella and Jordan Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) vice president for Asia and AFDP founder, support the initiative.

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