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  • Writer's pictureChris Thomas

Against All Odds: Her Remarkable Football Journey.

Updated: Mar 6

Erika, or Duway as everyone calls her, is a young girl of 13 who lives in a small fishing village on the coast of Guihulngan City in Negros Oriental. Guihulngan is geographically located near Cebu and is plagued by occasional armed conflicts. Duway’s village is considered a “slum” area affected by online sexual abuse and exploitation of children (OSAEC), early teen pregnancies, gang wars and illegal drugs. Each day, the brave little girl faced these daily struggles with patience and faith. But she’s not alone. Her father is an honest fisherman, and her mother is a caring housewife who runs a small sari-sari store. The selfless acts of her parents help the local community meet their basic needs. They do everything they can to support Duway and their community. One day, Duway started looking beyond her community to chase her dreams and then embarked on a journey she would never regret.

In 2019, Duway met Football for Humanity Coach Peter Lim, who was teaching children to play football at the Freedom Park in Guihulngan. There, she found new friends, and after that, she continued to leave her fishing village to join other children in the football program. In her own neighbourhood, Duway would continue to play in the small spaces along the seashore, which melted into a lush forest, mangroves and coconut palms, also known as the “Tree of Life”, where life seemingly flourished, even during the world’s strictest “pandemic lockdowns”. The lockdowns strengthened her zeal for the sport. She would continue to show enthusiasm and volunteer to join football tournaments to enhance her playing skills. She would even play against boys who were bigger and stronger than her, a true testament to her courage and confidence. Duway developed in many ways, and she was even given opportunities to play in other regions, such as Cebu City and Manila. Her dedication and perseverance even reached the attention of the City Mayor of Guihulngan, who recognised her commitment and achievements.

Today, Duway has been invited to play in a European tournament called the Norway Cup based in Oslo, Norway. In preparation for her extraordinary journey to Norway, Duway needed to apply for her first-ever passport at the Department of Foreign Affairs for her first trip outside the Philippines. Duway is a testament to the power of safe spaces that empower children, allowing them to discover their capabilities and passions in their lives. What an incredible football journey, from the lonely shores of a fishing village to the endless possibilities of a fulfilling future!

Football for Humanity is a sport for development charity that uses football-focused interventions to tackle complex social issues. We use the power of play to educate, empower and protect children facing the threat of abuse, exploitation and violence.


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