Making new friends

Shinji Kagawa brings joy to children ‘Yolanda’ survivors

Shinji Kagawa, former Manchester United and current Borussia Dortmund professional football player made special visit to Tacloban to meet Yolanda survivor children, supported by FundLife, a local NGO, using football to help children for personal growth and educational development.

Kagawa being greeted at Kapuso Integrated School in Tacloban North

His visit was made possible through Common Goal, a global movement of professional football players supporting NGOs around the world using football to improve lives. 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.

Commenting on his visit to the Philippines, Common Goal’s, Chief Operations Officer, ThomasPreiss said, “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 to sometimes 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” FundLife Founder Marko Kasic shared.

Arguably, one of Asia’s successful players, 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 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.

Sandara recalled, “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.”

Kagawa was hosted by FundLife, a local NGO that was founded in 2014 as a direct help to support children affected after Yolanda through the power of football and education. The NGO was set-up by Marko Kasic, a British and Croatian National, who was visiting the Philippines during Yolanda. After witnessing the devastation and lack of help for children, 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. When I came to the Philippines, I was struck at how warm and optimistic the people were. But I also witnessed so many injustices and the conditions some children are forced to live in that I could not just ignore it. I felt like I had to do something. We are all human and as human beings it’s in our nature to help one another.”

Since 2014, FundLife has supported over 30,000 children in Tacloban and Cebu through football-led programs that focus on vulnerable communities. In 2018, it took six Yolanda survivors to the FIFA World Cup in Russia. Beyond just football, FundLife is focused on building integrated sports and learning centres that focus on soft-skills, readying children for 21st century employment.

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 will grow up to Dunk like Lebron, but there is nothing to stop girls and boys hitting the net like Shinji.”

Kagawa with FundLife Founder, Marko Kasic – He donated a signed shirt to the organisation

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 For media enquires and interview requests, please call 053 523 1160. For information on Common Goal please visit to learn how players like Shinji Kagawa are using their global status to raise awareness about social issues around the world.

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