A heart warming, inspiring story of Simone Rota

Jack Biantan

FILIPINO-ITALIAN footballer Simone was left by his teenage mom in the Buklod Kalinga orphanage in Parañaque 1984. An Italian couple Maurizio and Marilena Rota adopted him and another baby Valentina and brought them to Milan, Italy where they grew up.

In Milan, he grew up playing football. He then became a professional footballer and played for various professional teams. But in 2013 he got interested in playing for the Philippine National team, the Azkals.

He then came back to Manila and suited up for the Stallions Football Club in the United Football League. He then was selected to play for the national team the following year and made his debut in a friendly match against Malaysia. He scored his first international goal during the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup against Laos.

At present, Simone plays for the Davao Aguilas in the Philippine Football League.

He might also suit up for the Azkals again in the Asian Cup elimination match against Tajikistan on March 27 at the Rizal Memorial stadium in Manila.

Simone’s story is not just plain simple. It is an inspiring story which got the interest of film makers Albert Almendralejo and Maricel Cariaga. That is why for three years, Albert and Maricel came up with this wonderful documentary about Simone Rota’s life, “The Journeyman Finds a Home:The Simone Rota Story.”

It opened in Manila last week and was given a grade of A at the Cinema Evaluation Board. Now it is going on a tour in selected schools in Mindanao to help raise funds for the Mindanao 1 football talent search of coach Percy Guarin.

Students from Pagatpat Elementary School and Rosevale School here in Cagayan de Oro City had the privilege of getting a sneak peak on the 67 minute long documentary.

Aside from Simone’s off and on the pitch struggles, the film also tackles his search for his biological mother who abandoned him at Buklod Kalinga. Did he manage to reunite with his biological mom Sonia Tulay? Tulay handed the four-month old Simone to Italian Franciscan missionary mother superior Flora Zippo.

His life deserves an MMK episode. Almendralejo and Cariaga deserves a trophy each for making a documentary that could inspire youngsters to play the beautiful game.

Almendralejo, a long time supporter of football is the founder of the Football for a Better Life (FFABL). The program aims to empower the youth and uplift their lives through the sport of football, which is the main proponent of the documentary.

FFABL is also supporting Women Empowerment through Sports, an international youth project whose local organizer is the NGO Bridging the Gaps.

“Sport empowers women and develops values in children. This is the advocacy of Football for a Better Life and serves as our humble contribution to national development,” said Almendralejo.

(l.biantan@gmail.com)