In the Philippines, football is often regarded as a slow sport. With matches lasting over an hour which sometimes end in scoreless draws, some find it boring.
But for Rudy del Rosario, director for Team Philippines to the Homeless World Cup, a type of football game could make many people appreciate the sport more: street soccer.
“It has good potential because it’s fast,” said del Rosario, also a former national team captain and two-time coach of the country’s delegation to the Homeless World Cup, a worldwide street soccer tournament that aims to change lives of the homeless people.
Aside from performing well in the past tournaments, lives of some members of the squad have changed after playing street soccer in the Homeless World Cup. 2010 Brazil edition member Mark Maravilla will coach this year’s squad, while others have also seen action in the United Football League, such as Janrick Soriano, Abdula and Hammid Pasion, Revect Lagarto, Leopoldo Aragon, Mark Rosales and Lexter Maravilla.
And with the popularity of football rising to unprecedented heights, more people could be engaged in it.
Street soccer employs the fundamentals of a regular football game, except that it is played on a much smaller court and fewer players are involved. Here, matches are played in courts 22 meters long and 16 meters wide, much smaller than a basketball court. Also, only four players are required for each team – one goalkeeper and three outfield players.
Matches are only composed of two halves with seven minutes each, a far cry from the 90 minutes of a regular football game. In case of ties, penalty shootouts will also be played, leaving no room for draws.
Del Rosario said that these qualities of the game would encourage Filipinos, who are used to the fast-paced action of basketball, to play street soccer.
“Hindi lang katulad (ng basketball), mas mabilis ang street soccer,” del Rosario said. “Minsan umaabot ng 10 goals isang team pa lang.”
To further develop street soccer, del Rosario said that he is now in talks with sponsors to form the first street soccer league in the country.
“We want to invite any clubs that want to join,” del Rosario said, adding that the league could start in January next year featuring 32 teams.
Del Rosario also added that they are also seeking support from the local government and the Homeless World Cup organization to provide the venue and the equipment that will be used for the games.
It won’t be hard to find players who will play street soccer, del Rosario said, with many football clubs sprouting in the country. Aside from that, he also wants the members of the Homeless World Cup team to still play competitive matches even after the tournament.
“League siya diba, so it’s long term,” del Rosario said.
Del Rosario is eager to promote street soccer in the country. After all, aside from introducing another exciting sport to Filipinos, it could also serve one purpose, just like how it affected some members of the Homeless World Cup team: to change lives.
» Team Philippines edges Italy, closes Homeless World Cup campaign with win
» Team Philippines splits matches in penultimate day of 2012 Homeless World Cup
» Homeless World Cup: Philippines bounces back by drubbing Finland, 7-3