A FIFA delegation recently concluded a three-day-inspection of Tacloban, the capital of the eastern island of Leyte, one of the areas most severely affected by the typhoon Haiyan that hit the Philippines in last November.
The FIFA representatives were welcomed in the ruins of Tacloban’s airport by officials of the regional Leyte Football Association, who confirmed that up to 15 football players from the Tacloban region alone had died during the typhoon.
The trip followed the assistance offered by FIFA President Blatter to the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) in the aftermath of Haiyan and the decision adopted by the FIFA Finance Committee on 4 December 2013 to contribute with a special grant of $1 million USD to the rebuilding of the damaged football infrastructure and facilities in the Philippines.
Before the typhoon, the Leyte FA had been one of the most active regional football organisations in the Philippines. 100 days after the disaster, about 60 per cent of Tacloban’s population could not yet return to their homes and electricity supply has been so far only restored in about one third of the city. Football infrastructure too suffered serious damage as pitches in schools and open spaces are still covered by makeshift classrooms and refugee tents.
According to the preliminary assessment made by the FIFA delegation together with the President of the Leyte FA Dan Palami, the special grant will be used for the reconstruction of football infrastructure in the Leyte region. Moreover, FIFA, PFF and the Leyte FA in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) also foresee the implementation of at least 20 grassroots clinics for traumatised children in the region during 2014, among other activities, that are set to benefit about 10,000 of them.
“Together with the PFF and the Leyte football authorities we are committed to the rebuilding of football infrastructure in the Philippines. The overall purpose is to contribute to the normalisation of football activities in the short term,” said FIFA Director of Member Associations and Development, Thierry Regenass.
FIFA and UNDP will also join forces at the 11th Match Against Poverty which will take place on 4 March 2014 at the Stade De Suisse National Stadium in Bern. The game is endorsed by football’s world governing body and proceeds will support recovery efforts in the Philippines.