While Tuesday’s high-profile FIFA-supported Annual Match against Poverty in Bern provided much needed money in the wake of November’s devastating Typhoon Haiyan, football's world governing body are also supplying funds and assistance for the rebuilding of football infrastructure in the Philippines.
A FIFA delegation recently finished a three-day assessment of Tacloban, located in the eastern island of Leyte in the Philippines, which was one of the worst hit areas when Typhoon Haiyan rocked the south-east Asian nation last November. Part of the delegation’s aim was to assess how best to assist locals revive football activities.
In December the FIFA Finance Committee confirmed a special grant of $1 million USD to the rebuilding of the damaged football infrastructure and facilities in the Philippines.
Three months after the disaster the city of 200,000 inhabitants and the surrounding areas still show tragic evidence of widespread and significant destruction.
With winds up to 300 kilometers per hour most houses and buildings were destroyed, while an enormous Tsunami flooded the city. Officially over 8,000 people lost their lives in the disaster and it is estimated that the actual death toll is much higher. About 60 per cent of the population have yet to return to their homes and only around 30 per cent of the city has electricity.
Return to football
The FIFA delegation visited the site of the former Leyte FA which had been reduced to rubble, with staff narrowly escaping with their lives. A highly active regional football association, the Leyte FA, as part of the normalisation and rehabilitation process, is now looking to open up opportunities to bring football back to being a regular part of life, with many football pitches covered by makeshift classrooms or refugee tents.
Discussions centered on utilising a portion of FIFA’s financial donation for a Training Centre Project near the city centre.
“This location would allow easy access to all the children from Tacloban and surroundings but could also serve as a regional centre for the whole affected area of Eastern Visayas (Leyte and Samar islands),” said Dan Palami, President of the Leyte FA.
“As it would include an artificial turf, it could serve also as the future home ground for local teams, a venue for grassroots festivals and potentially a training centre for national team camps.”
The FIFA delegation, at a meeting in the capital Manila with representatives of the Philippines Football Federation, agreed to provide a large quantity of football material, which will be used for FIFA/PFF Grassroots activities in the affected areas.
“In the coming months we’ll work hand in hand with the Philippine Football Federation to contribute to the normalisation of football activities in the most affected areas,” said Thierry Regenass, FIFA Director of Development & Member Associations.
“We also look forward to the implementation of activities with UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), since we both aim at using football as a tool to promote development in the Philippines.”