He wandered off to the Melvin Jones football field where football players in Baguio trained. He was dirty, thin, dark and never uttered a word.
Football coaches Aris Bocalan and Gatan Dalang, now of the Cordillera Goshen Land Football Club (CGFC) in Baguio called him to join the kids they were training in football.They taught and trained the mute street kid how to play the game. Many times, they also have to feed him before he leaves the field and finds a nook on the street to sleep on. Other times, he would work until midnight as a pin boy in one of the city’s bowling lanes. Afterward, he would sleep underneath the bowling lanes.
The kid, who became known as Rodrigo Gango or Pepe by kids at the Melvin Jones football field now plays for the club and was enrolled by homegrown developer Goshen Land at SPED Baguio as one of its scholars. Goshen Land also provided him a home.
He was restored to his closest kin since his mother abandoned him when he was a baby and his father died before he turned eight. Through a joint effort with the CGFC coaches and Goshen Land Caring Hands, Rodrigo did not only receive football training but education, constant counseling, mentoring, monitoring and character development. Character development is paramount in coaching the CGFC way.
Often times, CGFC coaches would remove a very good, talented player from the roster even if the tournament is close at hand because of irresponsibility in his academics, undiscipline, disrespect and an inflated ego. “Through football, we teach the players the importance of humility, discipline, hard work and sacrifice, “ CGFC Coach Aris Bocalan said. “Technical aspects are important but one must learn the values of the game,” added CGFC coach Gatan Dalang, the coach known for developing children who are non-players become good players. These kids then learn to embrace the game with passion and mindful of its values. Baguio has greatly benefitted from these coaches who were former Ateneo football team players. During their stint at the Ateneo, the school won the UAAP football championships in a row. Excellent players as they were, they have developed mostly underprivileged kids from public schools in Baguio into champion football teams.
The challenge however of developing players who think they could be irresponsible in their studies and still enjoy the beautiful game is ever present. “Football is the school of life. It is a gift. In order to sustain it, a player must do his best both in academics and football,” Coach Gatan Dalang said. Bocalan and Dalang have handled players from elementary to college and they have experienced first hand how the time-honored principles of good coaching helped kids develop principled character. “Through coaching, we relate football challenges and problems with their own problems in life,” Bocalan said. “As a football coach, It’s very important for me to monitor not only their grades but also their family life,” Dalang added. Bocalan explained that CCGFC coaches closely monitor their players’ academic grades to let them know the importance of education so they could use their football skills to pursue a degree.
Goshen Land had been relentless in its commitment to help the kids overcome difficulties in their lives through its
grassroots football program that incorporates education through scholarships and free tutorials for players, sports development through football and life coaching, mentoring for character development.
With CGFC at the forefront of the grassroots football program in Baguio as a volunteer non-government organization helping kids choose better alternatives to the mediocre temptations of drug addiction, bum gangs, computer games addiction and pre-marital sex, the CGFC coaches work with the life coaching program of Goshen Land Caring Hands to strengthen the players’ moral fiber. “Character, not talent will determine a kid’s destiny,” Annabelle Bangsoy, Goshen land Caring Hands chair said.*** JD