Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Monday, May 22, 2017

FC Bilibid: More than just a club

FC Bilibid: More than just a club
by rick olivares

With all due respect to FC Barcelona, the creed of “more than just a club” also applies to this pint-sized football team several thousands of miles away.

No, they aren’t world-beaters. They aren’t top-flight champions or a squad of regional galacticos.

Instead, FC Bilibid, a team over about 40 kids – let’s qualify that further – a team of malnourished, impoverished kids whose fathers are incarcerated at the New Bilibid prison in Muntinlupa, play a bigger game with bigger stakes than Catalan or La Liga supremacy.

They play for a shot at life.

Team Manager Rafael Misa picked up some of the kids from the Muntinlupa United Football Club, a squad I first wrote about some five years ago that featured kids whose fathers or mothers were either inmates at Bilibid prison or were the scions of jail guards. It could have been an explosive mix. Instead, they were explosive on the football pitch.

The old MUFC team split up, some staying with the mother team while others going on to join Misa in the new FC Bilibid.

“I think it’s healthier that way because the old MUFC team was too big to look after all the kids,” related Misa who once played football for Ateneo and whose daughter, Kylie, later followed his footsteps in donning the blue and white for college.

“Our program isn’t all just about football,” explained Misa. “We also have a feeding program where I ask help from my batchmates in feeding these kids. Aside from helping their bodies develop through nutrition and football, we also have a catechism aspect to what we do. I have asked the Jesuits for help with regards to this. As we were taught in school, it’s developing sound minds and sound bodies.”

Last weekend, May 20-21, FC Bilibid participated in the Yokohama Cup at the McKinley Hill Stadium in Taguig. In one of their matches, both sides had to go through penalty kicks to decide the winner.

Each team lined up three spot takers. Both teams made their first spot kicks then promptly missed the second. Now it was sudden death. The team in orange had saw their shot parried and now it was up to one kid in blue and white to either end the contest or send into further extension. The ball found the back of the net.

The team from FC Bilibid exploded in rapturous celebration. They piled on top of one another, ran all over the field, and lost their minds in a figurative way.

A few meters away, Misa, like a proud dad, laughed as the kids high-fived him one after the other.

During the two-day Yokohama Cup, FC Bilibid’s three boys teams all had podium if not decent finishes.

In the Boys U-12 category, they finished third. In the Boys Under-14, they reigned supreme defeating Dinalupihan, 2-nil. And lastly, in the Boys Under-16, they were third runner-up.

One kid who requested that his name not be mentioned said that he hopes football will grant him a scholarship to some school. Another hoped that he could play in the UAAP and if possible, the national team.

“Hope is a powerful thing,” summed up Misa. “It has been a couple of years since we organized the club. Aside from seeing them smile and see them develop as young children, days like these.. seeing them have fun, play the game of football – winning is even a bonus --- it makes it all worth it.”
Celebrating a win!

Celebrating a goal!

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