Coaches and former athletes hope that football will help foster development, empower women and enable Filipino youth to thrive.
Barotac Nuevo in Iloilo is dubbed as the football capital of the Philippines. Barotacnons embraced football as part of their cultural identity and community which explains why there are hardly any basketball courts in the area.
Most of the top players and coaches in the country visit the small coastal town to spot some good football players.
One of the most remarkable Filipino players scouted was Mr Football, Elmer Bedia. He played for the Philippines’ National Team for 13 years and was also among the Filipino booters who scored the winning goal for the country in the 1991 SEA Games.
Before joining professional leagues, Bedia played for his hometown Barotac Nuevo, in the defunct National Football League.
"Some of us, as kids, see that the only way to escape poverty is through playing sports like football."
"During my time, I joined a team in Barotac Nuevo and I was able to go to school without paying school fees because of the scholarship. As we grow up, there are always eyes that can spot kids that have the potential to join the Philippine team and I was lucky to be one of them."
- Football in the Philippines has become a ticket for many kids to get a full-ride scholarship to college
- Coaches from the Philippines encourage girls and women to play football
- Support from the government and community is needed to bring the national team to the World Cup
Elmer Bedia and ELB Football Academy coach, Jeff Vacaro shares how football transformed hundred of children's lives in the Philippines.