PH’s 1st cerebral palsy football team sets sights on Asean Para Games
MANILA, Philippines – The country’s first football team composed of athletes with cerebral palsy (CP) — a brain condition that hampers muscle movement — is set to participate in the 10th Asean Para Games this year.
According to Danny Moran, head of the Henry V. Moran foundation which was tasked by the Philippine Sports Association for the Differently Abled (Philspada) to form the football squad CP Rascals, they were able to scout players for the team by visiting at least 12 cities.
“Our search for players started in March last year after we were appointed by the Philspada to form a team to represent the country in the 10th ASEAN Para Games,” Moran said in a statement on Thursday.
“Our special football arm, CP Football Philippines, toured 12 cities, coordinating clinics and tryouts with the heads and officers of local government units,” he added. “By July, we had discovered some players and training for the team began.”
The Henry V. Moran Foundation, a non-profit organization, has been helping to develop football programs for public school youth all over the country.
As of now, CP Rascals currently has 12 players, which means that they only have five extra players aside from those playing in the first team action, as football games for cerebral palsy players are played with six outfield players and one goalkeeper on each side.
Team management said that they are looking to add two more players before the Asean Para Games hosted by the Philippines, which has been postponed again to a later date this year as a precaution amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Football for CP patients has been played since the late 1970s, and was added to the Summer Paralympic games in the 1984 edition in New York. However, it is still considerably new to the Philippines.
As the individuals’ movement is affected by their condition, CP football is played with modified FIFA rules, including a smaller playing field, a shortened playing time of two-30 minute halves. The offside rule, which requires offensive players to be situated behind defenders before the ball is passed to them, is also retracted.
Moran also thanked banking and insurance company Allianz PNB Life for supporting the cause of the CP Rascals and their bid in the Asean Para Games.
He said that one of the primary problems they encountered was the lack of companies who would provide insurance benefits for the players, as rules on insurance for differently-abled persons differ.
“Our main concern was life and accident insurance as bringing football to persons with disability has its risks, especially since training would be from 3 to 6 months,” Moran said, noting that Allianz also helped in giving financial support for the CP Rascal’s football camp and housing expenses.
Allianz PNB Life Chief Marketing Officer Gae Martinez, meanwhile, said that they are extending their full support for the team, which serves as inspiration for people to overcome several challenges.
“It is our honor to support a team that embodies Allianz’ ideal of overcoming life’s challenges in fulfilling one’s dreams. We are giving our para athletes the support to help them achieve their goals in their chosen sport, and we are looking forward to cheering them on in the 2020 ASEAN Para Games,” Martinez said.