Kagawa, is arguably Asia’s most famous and successful football player. He is a two-time German Championship winner and a Premier League winner with Manchester United. For his national team, Kagawa has 90 caps and 30 goals, and holds the record for being Asia’s highest goal scorer in UEFA European competitions. He has played at the Olympics and at two FIFA World Cups for Japan.
Kagawa met and played football with children from the Anibong, one of the most devastated communities in Tacloban after Yolanda, which saw over 7,000 people when the world's strongest typhoon hit in November 2013.
Making new friends
““It was very important for me to spend time in Tacloban with these children. Seeing how the game of football has had such a positive impact on their life truly shows how important the game is and how effective it can be used as a tool to help communities around the world.” - Kagawa Said
Kagawa celebrating with FFLA player in Tanauan, after scoring a goal.
His visit was made possible through Common Goal, a global movement of professional football players supporting NGOs around the world that use football to for social impact. Kagawa’s visit to Tacloban was only the second time a professional football player visited a Common Goal member organisation, after Juan Mata, a Spanish football player playing for Manchester United, visited India in 2017.
Respect and Equality – Shinji in Anibong
Commenting on his visit to the Philippines, Common Goal’s, Chief Operations Officer, Thomas Preiss added;
“It’s fantastic to see such a player of Shinji’s calibre take time to visit one of the organisations he teams up with through Common Goal. It’s important that Shinji and the organization have this experience together so both realize how vital each of their roles are and that only teamwork can help us solve the problems that are affecting communities like Tacloban and others over the world.”
As part of his visit to Tacloban, Kagawa also visited the resettlement communities in Tacloban North to see for himself how challenging life can be for children from vulnerable communities
“We hope Shinji’s visit will inspire children to believe in themselves and their potential. There is so much adversity that these children face everyday that it’s easy for them lose hope. To have a football hero they have only seen on YouTube scoring goals in packed stadiums, actually talking to them and playing with them is something they will never forget and something that will always give hope” Added, FundLife, Founder, Marko Kasic.
As one of Asia’s most gifted natural talents, Kagawa stands only 5ft 8". He is proof that dedication to the game and being technically skilled is far more important than height – something that should inspire Filipinos to take up the game, which has grown in popularity in recent years.
Kagawa enjoying the local welcome from children in GMA Kapuso.
Kagawa also had special signed shirt for Sandara, a 14, year old girl from Anibong whose family house was destroyed after Yolanda. She joined the Football For Life programme with FundLife in 2014. She is also playing in the Girls Community League, which works with DepEd to motivate children to commit to their studies as much as they do to their football.
“It was very memorable because it’s my first ever time to meet a professional football player, so I feel very lucky. At the same time, it will help me to become a better version of myself - to have a dedication, determination and discipline to myself. I want him to know that just because we live with some challenges, it does not stop us showcasing our skills and capabilities as a player or a community” – Sandara, 14 (Football for Life Player)
Kagawa posing with Sandara, as she wears his signed shirt .
Kagawa was hosted by FundLife, a local NGO that was founded in 2014 to provide direct support for children affected after the world’s strongest storm hit the central part of the Philippine Islands. The NGO was set-up by Marko Kasic, a British and Croatian National, who was visiting the Philippines when the typhoon hit.
After witnessing the devastation and lack of efforts to help children through long-term educational programming, Kasic left his job in London and moved to the Philippines to in the aftermath.
“People always ask why the Philippines – for me, suffering is suffering, no matter where it is. I just happened to be there in that place at that time, and I could not ignore what I saw”
Since it’s first project in 2014, FundLife has supported over 30,000 children in Tacloban and Cebu through football-led educational programming. In 2018, it took six Typhoon survivors to the FIFA World Cup in Russia. Beyond play, FundLife is focused on building integrated sports and learning centres that focus on soft-skills, readying children for 21st century employment.
Kagawa with FundLife Founder, Marko Kasic – He donated a signed shirt to the organisation
And on why football and not basketball, Kasic goes on;
Football is the worlds most watched and played sport – it unites people from all over the world and gives dignity to those who might be born with less, but whose lives and dreams are no less precious. Also, it’s pretty unlikely many children in the Philippines will grow up to Dunk like Lebron, but there is nothing to stop girls and boys hitting the net like Shinji”
Fundlife is also running a social development project through football in Cebu, where it is working with Giuseppe Community FC to promote girls football through the Girls Community League. The league aims to protect, educate and empower girls from vulnerable communities by giving them equitable participation to sport and on-going mentorship.
For more information on how Fundlife is helping vulnerable communities through play please email firstname.lastname@example.org. For media enquires and interview requests, please call 053 523 1160. For information on Common Goal please visit www.common-goal.org to learn how players like Shinji Kagawa are using their global status to raise awareness about social issues around the world.