Soccer for Change - Changing Lives Through Sport

Tim Flicker

On 18-27 November, five members (Alan Sarraf, Matthew Frost, Michael Ligocki, Ronak Patel and Tim Flicker) from Monash University Caulfield Soccer Club (The Gryphons) embarked on a journey to the island of Bohol, in the Central Visayas region of the Philippines. The Gryphs in collaboration with Leaders for Change, a not-for-profit social enterprise, ran specialised soccer (football) training clinics for students in the village of Anda. Engagement with sport promotes leadership, responsibility, dedication and a sense of belonging. The objective was to inspire young children to take an active interest in their education and future.

Over 70 students participated in the soccer clinics throughout the week. (Photo: Alan Sarraf)

The first day of clinics was the Monday with an official welcome being held at Candabong High School. The welcoming was attended by over 600 people and included performances from both students and staff, and several speeches from teachers and the Principal, Sir Nestor. In her speech, Head Teacher Ma’am Joy spoke about the happiness which comes from doing what you are most passionate about. Ma’am Joy said, ‘If you want to be happy for a week buy the things you want, if you want to be happy for a month go on holiday, but if you want to be happy for a lifetime then teach others what you know.’ The welcoming was a special moment and gave the group great momentum for the first round of soccer clinics later that afternoon.

Matthew Frost coaching Sarjay Felisilda, one of the young players.
(Photo: Alan Sarraf)
On the Monday afternoon it was time to run our first soccer clinic at the nearby location of Candabong Elementary School with 40 young girls and boys in attendance. As most of the students had never kicked a soccer ball, the clinics were largely devoted to teaching the basics of soccer. We focused predominately on the fundamental skills of dribbling, passing and shooting with a few small sided games at the end. Although the students were already quite adept at hand based sports such as basketball and volleyball, one of the biggest obstacles was teaching them to use their feet.

The clinics continued throughout the week and it was really rewarding to witness the confidence of the kids grow as their skills improved. Students who had started the week shy and reserved were beginning to come out of their shell and exhibit more confidence.

Jhodiel Niña Zoe Gonzales winner of the 'Spirit Award' demonstrating her tremendous dribbling skills.
(Photo: Alan Sarraf)

On the Thursday goals were constructed for the tournament to be held on Friday. There was initially a fear that as typhoon was sweeping across the island of Bohol the tournament would have to be abandoned.

Friday saw the tournament finish off the week of soccer.
(Photo: Alan Sarraf)
Fortunately, Friday was a warm and sunny day and was a perfect way to cap off an unforgettable week of soccer. An 8 team tournament saw 27 goals scored from 10 games with every team scoring at least one goal. Congratulations to all the players that took part in what was an amazing week of soccer.

The children are clearly inspired to keep learning the game with some of them even admitting they now like soccer more than basketball, the most popular sport in the Philippines.

Special mention to all those who made this trip possible; Paul and Orchille Hopcraft from Leaders for Change, Sir Ace and all the teachers and students at Candabong High School, Ma’am Jhovy and the staff at Anda Cove, our major sponsors Flames Pizzeria and Ray White Mount Waverley and to all the Gryphs and the wider community who supported the project. There is no way this project would have gone ahead without your support.

Monash University Caulfield Soccer Club (The Gryphons) was founded in 1994 and has been catering to both domestic and international students as well as other members of the local community for over two decades. If you are interested in becoming a member please contact or visit our website for more details.

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