SIX Filipino footballers earned tickets to the 12-day Astro Kem Bola Overseas Training Programme in Barcelona, Spain this December after undergoing rigid training and tryouts held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last month.
The six are Lance Lawrence Locsin, Jared Alexander Pena, Ryan Philip Johansson, Astrid Heiress Ignacio, Mikaela Jacqueline Villacin, and Jasmined Cassandra Agustin.
Together, they are part of the 32 players who get the chance to train with top Premier League team FC Barcelona from Dec. 5 to 20.
“These six kids will go to Barcelona to train with the best team in the world,” said Rofil Sheldon Magto, Globe citizenship manager, who presented two of the kids in the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum Tuesday at Shakey’s Malate together with Philippine Azkals assistant coach Chieffy Caligdong, also the Globe sports development manager and team captain of Green Archers United.
Astrid Ignacio, 12, and Locsin, 10 said they are both looking forward to the great experience, and of course, meeting Barca star players such as Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Andres Iniesta.
“I expect to learn more knowledge and skills, and at the same time, meet in person Barcelona players Mesi and Neymar,” said Ignacio, a Miriam College student who’s playing football for three years now.
Barcelona of course, is home to legendary Filipino-Spanish football superstar Paulinho Alcantara, who was recently surpassed by Mesi as the team’s all-time highest goal scorer.
The six players were among the 12 Filipinos who qualified for the Astro Kem Bola camp held in the Malaysian capital last September, where a total of 72 players from Malaysia and Singapore participated.
“Attitude and positive character, yun ang pinakaiba sa kanila at hindi basta yung training na binigay sa kanila sa Malaysia,” said Caligdong on what he sees in Ignacio and Locsin that allowed them to be included in the once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The team was the product of a two-month long TM Football Para Sa Bayan (TM FPSB) talent search organized by Globe Telecom in July and August.
Globe was tapped by Astro Kasih, the corporate foundation and corporate social responsibility of Malaysia media and entertainment powerhouse Astro, to be its partner in discovering talented young athletes and helping them further harness their craft.
Globe director for Citizenship Fernando Esguerra expressed elation over the selection of the six players especially after going through tough competition against players from the South East Asian region.