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A Young Leader’s Journey to the World

Football For Life Academy Coach (FFLA) and Young Leader John Paul Masubay write about his exciting journey around the globe and how it encouraged him to help the communities more.

“The future is not something we merely enter, it is something we create.”

I am one of the people who keep saying “If I have this and that, I will be contented”, “If I finish this, I will be successful” and “If I become this, I will be happy.

Opportunities will open up every time you do your best. It may be in the form of a small gesture or travel somewhere. Anyhow it is a chance to learn something that will help you become someone you want to be in the future.

When I started working for FundLife International, as a new football coach, I was able to meet vulnerable children who live in dilapidated houses, some were even displaced. Despite their struggles to just finish their studies because of financial constraints, I saw in each of them the relentless desire to live a better life. I saw they were happy to explore the world without worries.

Seeing this kind of reality drives me to improve myself more. As a mentor and a coach, my hunger to learn more, understand things in their deepest sense and be able to teach these dreamers. I want to share the knowledge I have gained and help them to battle the hardships they have to go through for them to reach their goals in life.

This passion helped me when I took the opportunities of travelling to Qatar, Russia, Argentina, Japan, and Chicago in just a year! It started when I was selected to become one of Generation Amazing’s Youth Ambassador together with my co-FFLA youth mentor, coach Jhean Hessel Nierras.

Expect Amazing – Qatar for World Cup 2022

We flew to Qatar.

A little bit disoriented and overwhelmed with my first experience travelling overseas I met amazing people, who I didn’t expect will leave such a big impact on my life.

Different people, cultures and beliefs, we all sat in a room. We talked, getting to know each other and discovering new things from each other. We learned from each other’s experiences and shared how each of our challenges as youth leaders and mentors can be used to teach and influence more children in each of our countries.

Establishing and strengthening youth involvement all over the world is one of the goals for the World Cup 2022 which will be hosted by Qatar.

World Cup 2019: Here comes the Philippines!​

After Qatar, we flew to Russia to participate in the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup 2018. If we met a lot of young leaders in Qatar, it was nothing like the delegations from different countries who participated in the FIFA Foundation Football Festival in Russia. I won’t forget Russia because it was the first time I was able to watch a live football match in a huge football stadium. It was an overwhelming and exhilarating experience, especially when Russia won against Spain on a penalty shoot-out. I also had the privilege to watch a Russian Circus. So far, it is the best show that I have ever seen in my whole life aside from the football matches. What sets these two travels apart is that we weren’t just merely thought on how to become effective young mentors but we also had a chance to see the different realities of the children and youth we were with during those days. The short conversations and the jokes we shared with them will forever be in my heart.

I was not only growing as a coach but little by little, my perception of the world became different.

Months after those travels I still pinch myself when I think about the travel memories when I received the news that out of hundreds of young leaders I was selected to represent Asia to take part in the Sports at the Service of Humanity Young Leaders Mentorship Program SSH – YLMP).

Part of the good news was that I had to go to Buenos Aires Argentina to attend the launching of the program and participate in the activities together with other five young sports leaders from other continents.

Imagine how lucky I felt that time. I was even all smiles when I was informed during our coaches meeting.

Buenas Dias Argentina!

After I went through a lot of challenges securing my VISA I was able to fly to Buenos Aires. It was a very different experience as there were only 6 of us (young leaders) by then It sunk into me how big the responsibility was to become part of the SSH- YLMPT.

I was introduced to my mentor, Mr Victor Montagliani, President of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) and Vice-President of FIFA.

During the forum, I was overwhelmed and inspired by the stories of my co-Young leaders who were very matured and adamant in each of their advocacies. Every time they speak you can’t hear the voice of a young boy and girl but the voice of a leader who takes his//her ability to influence people of the world.

Speaking in front of children and athletes is not new to me but my speaking moments during the forum are truly nerve-wracking but also a great learning experience for me.

Of course, just like my other travels together with other youth representatives were able to tour around some spots in Argentina. I even took photos that up until now makes me smile.

I came back to the Philippines with new learnings and more inspiration. I did share with the players in the Football for Life Academy program the experiences I have in my travels.

Christmas and the New Year passed I still kept in touch with the people I meet. We share experiences when it comes to coaching and mentoring children. Then I received an email from SSH.

Guess what? Another travel opportunity and this time it was to Japan and Canada!

Imagine my joy when I confirmed the news.

Excited for this, I went on with completing my VISA requirements who is always my primary concern whenever I travel. I even stayed in Manila for days just to comply with all the requirements.

I received the confirmation for my travel to Japan although I was still worried about my US VISA I went on with my trip.

Konichiwa Japan!

When I get to Japan for the G20 Interfaith forum I had no time to dilly-dally because there were a lot of scheduled events for us young leaders.

​The G20 forum is a platform for raising the level of effectiveness of religious inputs and providing a sharp focus on values on global policy issues. Bringing together global leaders and experts from religion, civil society, government, and academia, this year’s forum will focus on issues vital to security and well-being, including refugees, cross-cultural tensions, health, children ageing society, and care of the earth.

During the event, I was one of the speakers in a dialogue session between the Elders and the Youths in the future of the planet. With me were, Kim Tran, Core Member of Fridays for Future Japan, Denise Coghlan, Lead Jesuits Refugees Service Cambodia: Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Sulak Sivaraska, Founder, International Network of Engaged Buddhist (INEB), Niwano Peace Prize Laureate.

The session was focused on actions in the area of Planet, with a special focus on youth voices in shaping contemporary ideas of politics especially around the challenges of climate change. It was a dialogue between youth leaders and “elders”, looking to constructive and bold paths forward.

It was indeed a productive trip. I was not just an attendee but I was given a chance to speak and take part in significant activities which I know makes a great impact although not all children but is slowly getting there.

Sports can not only help the development of a child and the progress of the country but together with faith, it can be a tool to achieve peace.

Exhausted but feeling fulfilled I left Japan and travelled to Chicago which at first I thought will not happen.

This Is Ours! - Gold Cup 2019

This travel was different from the others because I didn’t attend any forum. I was merely invited by my SSH mentor Mr Montagliani to personally meet him, get to know more about his work and witness the Gold Cup.

It was overwhelming and an honour for me for being recognized as part of the CONCACAF family.

I get to know my great mentor Mr. Montagliani and I was able to share with him the work that I have been doing to help the children in the communities that FundLife has been working for years.

I was also able to watch the live match between Mexico and USA as part of the CONCACAF Gold Cup 2019. It was so festive and fun. Football is indeed is a big thing in these countries.


Reminiscing these travels gives me a positive feeling. It fuels my drive to continue the good things that I am doing with my life.

Opportunities that I had is indeed very rare therefore I treasure all of this. A lot of people would want to trade places with me just to experience to be in the places I’ve been but, remember, the destination is not the adventure; the adventure is the journey you will take. It will not be always as easy as a sunny day. Most of the time you will have to deal with the tough storms to get the treasure you wanted.

If you are struggling right now, remember not to quit. You may rest but you may never quit. Take as much time you need to overcome it and use this time to strategize, to learn wisdom and to gather support but do not quit.

Be brave and be wise to try something new and different. You’ll never know that you might like it.

I have been to Qatar, Russia, Argentina, Japan, and to the USA, and the only thing they have in common is that they are all different and new. Along the way, I had different new experiences with different new people and learned things that were different and new to me.

From the culture and architecture in Qatar, the Circus and World Cup in Russia, the empanadas and love of sports in Argentina, to the sushi and the people united by faith in Japan, and lastly the Lake Michigan and the Gold Cup in Chicago.

I believe if I just enter the future without being happy on creating it I will not be on those places, will not meet amazing people and I will become who I am today. So I am forever thankful to the people who made me realize this, the people who opened these opportunities and the people who are always there to support me.

So always remember that your adventure will not start if you enter a certain state but your adventure is already happening. So, you have to do your best now and always so that you live a life with no regrets and create a future you wanted for yourself.

And may you always keep in mind that “the book with the most stories should be your passport.”

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