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Stories From the Field: Never Stop Learning

Stories from the Field is an ongoing series in which Young Leaders share their stories, and the challenges they have overcome, with members of the Common Goal team.

Dear Shinji,

I often say to people that, though I may not be the best at speaking English, football is such a universal language that I can communicate with all the participants through it. But football is not just a way of communicating, it has also taught me to become a team player and a mentor, both on the pitch and in our family and community. I am Robelyn, I’m 30 years old and this is my story.

I live in Tacloban City in the Philippines, and I believe all the challenges that I, and a lot of people around me, encounter are because of poverty. The lack of money causes a lot of problems in our family and community. Without it we don’t have food, we can’t pay bills, buy medicine for our parents and finish our studies. I could not even change the incorrect birthdate on my birth certificate since it would cost a lot just to change it.

I think one of the best routes out of poverty in the Philippines and a lot of other places is education. However, finishing school can be problematic, especially when you do not have the support of the teachers. Back when I was still studying in college, I was a diligent student who would come to class every day, treat the professors with respect, and adhere to all the school’s rules and regulations. And though I struggled with some subjects, I always tried my best to pass the exams. Back then I believed that if I did well with my studies, I would be able to achieve my dreams. But this changed when myfinancial situation impacted my studies.

When I was in my fourth year of college, in one of my subjects we were required to go on a field trip. For the trip we needed to pay 15,000 pesos, about 250 euros, but because my family could not afford to pay out so much money I was not able to join my classmates on the trip. Then I started to lose my motivation. No matter how hard I studied, passing or failing the courses still boiled down to money and that made me angry. Looking back I wish I had persevered with my studies and I probably would have, but my mother then got sick and it was near impossible to continue. I dropped out of school and started working in different industries like sales and customer support.

One good thing, however, to come out of my time at college was that it introduced me to football. It was 2008 when I first played and it became a huge influence on my life. Football not only helped me become physically fit but it helped me get my frustrations and stress out. It also opened up a lot of opportunities for me. It led to me to the FundLife organisation.

I first discovered FundLife through a few friends who I played football with and soon became one of their football coaches. I was given the opportunity to attend various activities and trainings which helped me develop my coaching skills and mentoring abilities. I also attended the FIFA Football Festival in Russia in 2018 where I took part in Young Leader workshops and activities including football3 training sessions. Interacting with other Young Leaders from other countries was a such an amazing experience and something I will never ever forget.

Currently, I’m doing football activities in different sites andschools as part of FundLife’s Football For Life Academy (FFLA) initiative. Through the sessions that I conduct together with the other coaches in the programme, we have been able to help so many children in our community. But our program is not just about making the players better footballers. We teach the kids positive values like teamwork, discipline, creativity and, most importantly, resilience.

I try my best to guide the kids and teach them the knowledge and belief that we can all achieve our dreams. We can mould future generations as they learn how to help one another andbecome more selfless. I think a lot of kids see me as a rolemodel and that is a responsibility I take very seriously. One of the other players once said I’m not just a coach but a teacher, a life adviser, a sister, a best friend and a mother. It was one of the proudest moments of my life.

The biggest impact the programme had on my life is that it has helped me become a better human being. Someone who cares for others, especially the young players who are so curious and impressionable. But overall, I’ve realised that no matter where you are — on the football field or in the classroom — you can learn new skills and more about yourself by challenging yourself every day.

Common Goal is uniting the football community in tackling the greatest social challenges of our time. And we can use your help. Join the team at www.common-goal.org

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