This gamer’s got game

Column box-Rick Olivares - Bleachers' Brew

THE knock on today’s youth is how they don’t have an active lifestyle and instead prefer something more virtual.

Meet April Mosca who debunks that notion. The self-confessed game who never really had an athletic bone in her body has put up a young and promising football grassroots program – the Lipa Football Academy.

“I am a gamer,” she confessed. “The sports I played were on my mobile phone. The Fifa mobile game was one of my favorites.”

“I didn’t follow the Azkals or any professional league. I was just into the mobile game version.”

It was during one of her Physical Education classes at the University of Santo Tomas where she finally got to play the game.

“I had no idea how to play but I gradually fell in love with the sport so much that after work, I used to join training for adults.”

Even as she resigned from her job and moved back to Batangas, the Lipa native found herself commuting to Manila twice a week just to play football.”

“Of course I was looking for a place to play here in Batangas, but I didn’t find any until one time, I found a vacant lot in a nearby community park. I bought these two small goals and a football then simply posted on Facebook inviting anyone here in Lipa to come over and play. No fees. Just come over and play.”

That first weekend in December of 2017, they had enough players to play seven-a-side football. Then a local football coach messaged Mosca that he was going to bring over his team to participate.

“We didn’t know one another at all, but soon after that, we all did.”

Every week, the number of attendees grew. One day, soldiers from the nearby Fernando Air Base showed up to play. They invited April and all the other players to come over to their base where they had a proper football pitch.

As the numbers grew, the went from merely playing the game to conducting clinics for kids.

When the Aboitiz Pitch at the Outlets in the Lima Estate was put up, the nascent Lipa Football Academy found a home.

“When we moved to the Aboitiz Football Field, we started the clinic for kids every Saturday 6 to 8 p.m. for those interested in learning the game. We got participants as young as four years old to adults. The came summer sessions in addition to the clinics. Of course, short tournaments.”

Today, what is now called the Lipa Football Academy (that was formally organized in 2022) has more than 200 kids in the academy.

This coming November 11, the kids of Lipa Football Academy will be participating in the 23rd Aboitiz Football Cup (at the Outlets). The month-long festival has some 18 categories from boys, girls and amateurs of different ages.

“We are a young academy but the experience in these festivals and tournaments helps the Batangas kids,” summed up Mosca. “We are able to gain that valuable experience and hold our own against the teams from the National Capital Region and the Calabarzon area.”

“Who knew right—that I would fall in love with the game of football? It is now a full blown passion.”

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