Shinji Kagawa, former Manchester United and current Borussia Dortmund professional football player, made a special visit to Tacloban to meet young Yolanda survivors supported by FundLife.
FundLife is a local non-government organization that utilizes football to support children’s personal growth and educational development.
Kagawa met and played football with children from Anibong, one of the most devastated communities in Tacloban after super typhoon Yolanda in 2013.
“It was very important for me to spend time in Tacloban with these children. Seeing how the game of football has had such a positive impact on their life truly shows how important the game is and how effective it can be used as a tool to help communities around the world,” said Kagawa.
As part of his visit to Tacloban, the five-foot-eight Japanese footballer also visited the resettlement communities in Tacloban North to see how challenging life can be for children from vulnerable communities.
Kagawa also had a special signed shirt for Sandara, a 14-year-old girl from Anibong whose house was destroyed by the typhoon. She joined the Football For Life program with FundLife in 2014. She is also playing in the Girls Community League, which works with the Department of Education to motivate children to commit to their studies as much as they do to their football.
Sandara recalled, “It was very memorable because it was my first ever time to meet a professional football player, so I feel very lucky. At the same time, it will help me to become a better version of myself—to have dedication, determination, and discipline.”
“I want him to know that just because we live with some challenges, it does not stop us showcasing our skills and capabilities as a player or a community,” she added.
Kagawa’s visit was made possible through Common Goal, a global movement of professional football players supporting NGOs using football to improve lives.
Commenting on his visit to the Philippines, Common Goal chief operations officer Thomas Preiss said, “It’s fantastic to see such a player of Shinji’s calibre take the time to visit one of the organizations he teams up with through Common Goal. It’s important that Shinji and the organization have this experience together so both realize how vital each of their roles are, and that only teamwork can help us solve the problems that are affecting communities like Tacloban and others over the world.”
“We hope Shinji’s visit will inspire children to believe in themselves and their potential. There is so much adversity that these children face everyday that it’s easy to sometimes lose hope. To have a football hero they have only seen on YouTube scoring goals in packed stadiums, actually talking to them and playing with them is something they will never forget and something that will always give hope,” enthused FundLife founder Marko Kasic.