Team Philippines are ready to travel to Amsterdam and compete in this year’s Homeless World Cup. The journey for this particular team has been longer than most. All the players in the squad faced the destructive Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) which ravaged the Philippines in November 2013.
When the typhoon hit the Philippines, the province of Leyte, which includes Tacloban and Ormoc, bore the brunt of its destructive power. The level of devastation was such, that most of the services and organisations based in the Philippines had to re-focus their efforts into supporting their countries recovery. As Street Soccer Philippines, the Homeless World Cup National Partner in the Philippines, prepared for competitions – including the 2014 Homeless World Cup, which they were not able to attend – disaster struck and drastically changed all plans. As the resulting storm surge leveled homes and infrastructure, football was the last thing on the players’ minds as they underwent their harrowing ordeal.
This year’s squad remembers Haiyan all too well.
Striker Angelo Marzon says: “I was working in Ormoc and I went to my girlfriend’s house because I heard that the coming storm was strong. I went to my father’s house to check on my parents after seeing my girlfriend, and went back to her house after.
“The storm blew the roof off, but the walls held and everyone survived with just normal flooding”
At noon I went out to check on the house in San Jose. Our house was full of debris. The house was made of concrete, but it was in shambles and the kitchen had collapsed. About 4 p.m. my parents went to Robinson’s to sleep in the parking lot because they did not know where else to sleep. We stayed there for the night and then went back to began to clear the debris. Our house was near where the bodies were piled. Many of our neighbors were trapped and drowned.”
Genesis Pongos, one of this year’s defender and midfielder was living in Ormoc when the storm hit. “When we heard a storm was coming, I went to Valencia to my Grandfather’s house, because he was the only one there. My grandfather’s house is near a church and when we were preparing our breakfast, the roof came off and was totally removed. Our house is attached to the foundation of the church.
We were able to evacuate to our neighbors’ (also) roofless house. I remember looking through the neighbor’s house to find something to keep my grandfather and the other evacuees warm. After the storm, I built a small shelter for my grandfather. A half of a tent made from the debris. Grandfather is 66. He currently has a problem with his kidney.”
These are just a few of the harrowing ordeals experienced by members of Team Philippines 2015.
The Filipino players are looking forward to representing their country in the world’s stage, a chance that they missed last year due to the ongoing problems resulted from the devastation caused by Haiyan.
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