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August 12, 2021

Age: 18
Favorite sports: Football and watching documentaries about the best football players
Favorite athlete: Lionel Messi
Favorite team: FC Barcelona
Friends describe him as: Caring, humble and talented

Daniel’s drive to help others comes from his family. The 18-year-old from Tacloban City, Leyte grew up in poverty and doesn’t want other families to struggle like his did. He strongly believes that sports can help children and youth develop and become more resilient and productive. In his case, football helped him to cope with his trauma and relieve the stress he experienced from 2013’s super Typhoon Haiyan and its aftermath.

Daniel is training as a football coach and youth mentor with non-profit FundLife. In his role, he teaches about social issues and how to respond on areas covering gender inequality, violence and physical and mental health issues arising from COVID-19. He wants to grow into someone who touches lives and brings people together.

1. What does it mean to you to be selected for the inaugural class of the Beyond Sport Youth Advisory Board (BSYAB)?

It means a lot to me. Being part of Beyond Sport’s Advisory Board is a not only a privilege and honor, but it’s also a big opportunity for me to represent a group of people who want to help address various social issues that greatly impact children’s lives. This opportunity will help bring voice to the youth who want to be heard and to be part of action plans that the rest of the world wants to achieve to have a better place to live in.

2. Over the two years, what is the primary thing you are most looking forward to getting out of the experience? What do you want to learn and teach?

I want to learn from other members of the board about their best practices in overcoming social issues. I want to be able to create a program or initiative that would strengthen youth’s involvement in acting on specific issues. I would like to be able to create a network of youth who can directly influence the government’s plan on youth development.

I’m also looking forward to meeting new friends and amazing people. I want to build a strong relationship with them, learn from them, create amazing ideas with them, and of course, help change the world for the better.

3. Beyond Sport believes that sport for social change is more than just bringing people together to bond and bridge divides through play, it’s about using it as a platform of learning and development. When used purposefully, and with intention, it can be a powerful pathway to effective solutions to the most complex social issue of our time.

What does using “sport with intention” mean to you?

Sports go beyond championships and winning. It is about using sports as a medium to address certain issues or problems.

4. Who do you think is getting it right in the world of social change and why?

For me right now it is FundLife. They helped me become aware of my rights and learn how a youth leader should behave and seek knowledge to improve. From when I was a player, the organization has been consistent in its works to make an equal playing field for children, promote gender equality, empower women and provide support for accessible quality education.

5. How and why did you get involved with FundLife?

I became one of the project beneficiaries of FundLife’s Football for Life Academy which is a response to the devastation on well-being and education of youth brought on by Typhoon Haiyan. I became a football player at 11-years-old when they included our community in their target project location. The players in the program range from 9-years-old to 22-years-old. In every community, both boys and girls are encouraged to join.

6. The issues you’re passionate about - poverty, gender equality, violence and health - are wide ranging. What drove you to focus on these specific issues?

I come from a very poor family. My parents do not have high paying jobs and my siblings and I were only able to proceed with our studies because we help each other. These social issues are very present in the community I live in. Most children my age and even younger than myself struggle to access education. Even though education is free a family still has to find money to buy school uniforms, school supplies and for transportation. It is very hard for families who only earn enough money to buy food to eat.

As a football player and a coach, I’ve seen a lot of discrimination towards female athletes, especially in male-dominated sports. I saw how teams of girls are established but they don’t receive the same playing opportunities and resources. This unequal treatment also goes beyond just sports. I observed men being preferred by companies to work for them over women.

Violence and health are issues that I am also very familiar with. Right now, there is a big gap in terms of the actions and solutions to address the rising cases of COVID-19 and slow vaccination. Even I am not yet vaccinated. 

I choose these social issues not because I see them in my community, but because I am personally impacted by all of this.

7. Please describe some of the specific ways you are using football to address the issues you are targeting.

We have a futsal session that tackles social issues like mental health. In that session, we created three football drills. One of the drills was called Mental Circles. In that drill, all players will list down things (stressors) that give them negative emotions. Three volunteer players will choose their role based on the list (can be COVID-19 or failing grades). More players will be chosen and each of them will stay in a circle. Each player was be assigned with 3 markers and a hoop. The stressors will try to steal the markers inside the hoop. The players who own the markers and hoops can defend by tagging the stressor. If the stressor is tagged, they will find another circle.

The goal of the players is to keep the stressors from stealing their markers and hoops before the coach says stop. This session will help children understand mental health by starting with their understanding of emotions and stress. This will provide a platform for youth to discuss even emotions that they feel are not appropriate to be shown to a lot of people.

8. What are you currently studying and what are your professional goals?

I am a first-year college student taking up Bachelor of Science in Entrepreneurship. I want to become a businessman a firefighter, and a professional football coach.

9. As you progress in life and your career, what legacy you hope to leave on your peers, family?

I want a legacy that whenever people hear my name they will remember a good friend and a very positive person. A responsible individual who established a strong youth group that can influence the government to involve youth in creating development plans to help educate other youth about their rights and empower them to become agents of change.

10. Do you have a personal motto?

I believe that surrounding yourself with people who believe in your dreams will help you reach your life goals.

Meet all eight of the inaugural Beyond Sport Youth Advisory Board members