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HomeNight changes: How soccer and two Ronaldo disciples are changing a city...

Night changes: How soccer and two Ronaldo disciples are changing a city known for a massacre

Second of two parts

Engels Escultor was named after the German philosopher who wrote the Communist Manifesto along with Karl Marx.

Except that his first name is pronounced En-jels and not Eng-gels like that of Friedrich’s surname.

Engels is one half of the “de los hermanos” in Club de los Hermanos de Futbol.

He and Nessi Ramos are best friends, “since elementary school,” Nessi says.

Now, just a bit over two years, they have been heading a free soccer training program for kids aged 15 and below.

“We want Escalante City to be known for its football players,” Engels tells DNX in a mix of Bisaya and English as children were playing scrimmages after the weekend drills.

Engels is a public school teacher who also runs a business with Nessi.

Both consider Cristiano Ronaldo, now playing for Manchester, as their model.

Asked why he prefers Ronaldo over Lionel Messi, Nessi says both were born to play football but Ronaldo “has more than just innate skills.”

“Discipline, that’s what makes him different,” Nessi says, a trait that Engels also cites as his reason for choosing Ronaldo.

It is this discipline that Engels and Nessi want to pass on to the kids they are mentoring on the pitch as they hope that this trait, what human resource managers now consider part of “soft skills,” would eventually be useful even off the field.

Apart from trying to teach discipline, Nessi and Engels want to teach soccer.

For Nessi knows how it is to want to play soccer and not be supported.

Annabelle, Nessi’s mother, admits to not being supportive of her son, even going to the extent of “slicing” the soccer ball, she says chuckling, a feeling of guilt in her voice.

Today, Annabelle would go to soccer practice cheering for the kids as her son teaches them.

She is, in a way, CHF’s chief marketer, talking to parents and guardians like the owners of Chick N’ Belly, a popular restaurant in Escalante, and former Central School principal Anjeanette Calumpita who daily flock to the football pitch, cheering like their kids are playing in a La Liga match.

And it has practical benefits, too.

Kevin Razquin, CHF president, says the discipline of children are improving. That means they sleep early, eat better, and know how to somehow manage their time between school and play.

Kevin, Annabelle, and Anjeanette Calumpita, and several other parents, were up early when DNX went to Escalante City.

Emily Cabanero was one of the mothers who showed up that day.

She has observed that her children play mobile games less now compared to previous months when most sports were not allowed by quarantine conditions.

While that may have direct benefits like bring downing household expenses for prepaid data, an unmeasurable benefit could have greater impact on the community coming out of a pandemic.

Kevin notes children are becoming children again. Learning how to play with others like them.

Unlike before when children don’t seem to know how to socialize anymore, AnJeanette, the former educator adds.

Nessi has put his plans to go abroad now even if an opportunity waits for him in one country.

“That opportunity will always be there,” he says but adds that CHF is more important now.

“The children need us,” he says.

Engels dreams of seeing a Ronaldo rise from the dusty pitches of Escalante, an achievement that is possible only if the young ones are trained.

Engels and Nessi believe soccer will not die if the true source of booters, those aged five above, can be trained early.

And it takes a village, indeed, to raise a child or in this case, train one.

Nessi and Engels are happy so far that the parents are helping them, showing their support not just by coming out for their children but by supporting the CHF financially.

Escalante City used to be a dusty town known for a massacre but listening now to the cheers of parents for their children playing soccer seems to tell an outsider one thing.

There is hope in soccer.

It is among the young.

Julius D. Mariveles
Julius D. Mariveles
An amateur cook who has a mean version of humba, the author has recently tried to make mole negra, the Mexican sauce he learned by watching shows of master chef Rick Bayless. A journalist since 19, he has worked in the newsrooms of radio, local papers, and Manila-based news organizations. A stroke survivor, he now serves as executive editor of DNX.
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