When the Alaska Football Cup debuted in 1995, nobody knew the kinds of heights the sporting event would reach. Fast-forward to 22 years later, it’s the AFC that’s heavily responsible for the growth of the Filipino football community. These days, people are looking at a flourishing football scene that’s growing every day with potential, talent, and world-class athletes – much of which originated from participation in the the Alaska Football Cup.
One such athlete is Ryan Estrella, a former participant of the AFC, and whose 6-year old son competed in this year’s Cup. Now in his 40s, Ryan recalls, “I played there when I was in grade school, and it wasn’t as big or extensive as it is today. When I was a kid, not a lot of people liked football.”
“The AFC has gone into another level,” says Ryan, having witnessed the tournament’s growth firsthand. “I was watching the play style and the system of different schools and clubs,” Ryan says. “For me to witness the talent and skills of those young kids, it simply amazes me,” he adds.
It was the fond memories of the AFC that led Ryan to register Aly as a participant. At six years young, Aly’s love for football came accidentally when two people playing taught him the basics in their neighborhood park. Since then, it’s all Aly has wanted to do, kicking and juggling a ball with his feet around the halls of their home. “When those guys taught Aly how to play, he could never forget it,” says Ryan about his son’s passion. He would talk about football everyday.”
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Ryan says, knowing his son loves the game as much as he does. He says the sport, with the help from the AFC, will equip Aly with priceless skills, “There’s a lot to learn from football. Number one is the focus to do something you want to be good at. Number two would be the discipline, hard work, and respect.”
At the end of the day, Ryan’s wish for Aly is to keep the fire burning when it comes to his love for the game. He says the best things to take away from the experience are the values essential to winning and developing a character. “If this really is his passion, then the best advice I can give him – from one footballer to another – is to never stop learning.”