Finding their field of dreams at 'Tuloy'

Rick Olivares - Philstar.com
Finding their field of dreams at 'Tuloy'
From left to right: Tuloy Futsal program head Takemoto Suzuki, Jayson Turca and football player Lanie Ortilla.

MANILA, Philippines —  The name alone puts you at ease, and makes you feel welcome.

Tuloy Foundation. Or affectionately for shot, “Tuloy.”

And that Filipino word is one of the most pleasant words in the language as it also says something about the country’s brand of hospitality.

The sprawling 4.5-hectare facility located in Alabang, Muntinlupa is home to at least 160 children from “the less privileged parts of society” as its founder, Salesian priest Fr. Marciano “Rocky” Evangelista describes their students, as well as the occasional wandering Japanese football coach and Hong Kong-based businessman. 

In his younger years, Taketomo Suzuki, hoped to play semi-pro or professional football. He left his native country of Japan to follow his dream all the way to England where he ended up playing in a university and later found himself coaching the youth and development squads of Tottenham and Arsenal.

It was a chance with Chelsea Soccer School Hong Kong that put him in touch with businessman and Chelsea Soccer School co-owner Raymond Tan.

The Hong Kong businessman had struck up a friendship with Fr. Rocky and was looking for ways to help Tuloy with its grassroots program. 

“Mr. Tan asked me if I wanted to help out Tuloy with its program and after flying back and forth between Hong Kong and the Philippines several times to volunteer with them, I said yes to being its Program Director,” smiled Suzuki. “Now, I have been here for four years.”

“It has been amazing to see the improvement in terms of football and futsal as well as the coaches’ development,” pointed out Suzuki. “I knew they had potential and I continue to see a lot of it. They just needed someone to point the way.”

One of those coaches who has come up from the program is Jayson Turco.

“Pumasok ako sa Tuloy at binagyan nila ako ng pag-asa. I mean, walang wala talaga akong pag-asa sa financial o ano man. Sila nagpalaki sa akin at na-build up nila character ko at naging disiplinado ako,” related Turco. “Dito sa Tuloy, kailangan araw-araw may na-achieve ako and na-achieve ko naman. At dahil doon, nag-tagumpay ako at ngayon, na-share ko yung natutunan ko sa iba para sila naman ang mabigyan ng pag-asa.”

One of those street kids is Lanie Ortillo. 

“Galing po ako sa street at meron tumutulong sa amin at siya’y nagtanong kung gusto naming magpunta sa sentro para mag-aral,” related Lanie who didn’t need much prodding as her elder sister, Genelyn who was already at Tuloy, and was living testament to the worthiness of the program that involves academics, sports, personal development, and faith as part of their formation.

Suzuki and Turco’s efforts play out in a center matched with world class facilities. A full sized artificial football pitch with spectator stands, plus a brand new indoor futsal center are where disadvantaged youth like Genelyn are educated and formed through two complimentary sports – football and futsal. Tuloy regularly participates in the PFF Women’s Football League and in the Allianz National Youth Futsal Invitational. A number of children have already represented the country in both AFF and AFC international youth competitions. 

Pronounced Loida Oliveros, Marketing Officer of Tuloy. “Hanga ako sa kanila (Suzuki, Turco, and the other coaches) kasi they really put their heart into what they do. That is why their commitment is beyond what they are doing.”

“When people see the program, they all want to be a part of it,” summed up Suzuki. “And for the less privileged to represent their country in international tournaments and the education and formation they get, it is amazing. Everyone looks up to these kids.”

“That is something Tuloy can give to people.”

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