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Photo by Alfonso Calero

Fairplay’s Story

Fairplay began in 2011 through the passion of Roy Moore and Naomi Tomlinson, both British nationals. Both had previous voluntary experience with groups in Payatas, one of the largest and poorest slums in the Philippines, and they were touched by the hard-work, creativity, and welcoming nature of the people they worked with.

Above all Fairplay was founded on the belief that the children and families deserved a fair opportunity to live full and meaningful lives, and that together the community could build better education, nutrition, and sports by “levelling the playing the field”.

In the beginning, Payatas Football Club was the first project to be formed. As football became popular, due to the rise of the Azkals, the Philippine National Team, children in the area of Payatas became interested to learn. Roy began coaching the kids each weekend. Naomi joined back in the Philippines soon after having built a fundraising side in the UK. Fairplay then began facilitating a drop-in center in Payatas on a shoestring budget.

9b-center-through-the-years-extThe drop-in center was a safe space where the kids in the community could come to learn, eat, and play. Most importantly, Fairplay became immersed in the community, built deeper relationships, and heard the full stories of the families involved and what support they really wanted. Fairplay began sponsoring out of school children back into school, providing vocational training for older students, and deepening relationships in the community.

In 2013, with the help of Alasdair Thomson in particular, Fairplay acquired and renovated a new building. This larger drop-in center allowed more kids to join extra-curricular classes and began serious developments in the education program. With 50-80 kids in a classroom in public schools, it began to become clearer that a better alternative was needed. A year later Naomi returned to the UK to study. Roy, supported by an all-local staff, began to evolve the drop-in center into a school in its own right.

This process was given a big boost through the support of the Silver Star Century Group. Fairplay acquired a larger building still, where the vision of Fairplay’s own school could be accomplished. With a growing and dedicated team, the Democratic philosophy to education was established, where the students were also part of running the school, voting on particular rules, ideas and suggestions. The key to the school is in developing emotional intelligence, based on the research of Goleman, Dweck, Duckworth, Achor, and others. It is becoming clear that emotional intelligence has a huge effect on future success, and particularly given the context of Payatas, where children learn helplessness, have few positive interactions or positive attention, and few long-term opportunities, if any, the school becomes a safe space for the kids to grow, to play, and to learn.

In 2017 the school was registered under the Alterantive Learning System, meaning our students gain qualifications and can advance through the education system with us full-time.

The previous drop-in center, meanwhile, has now become the Fariplay Café. Local mothers cook healthy and delicious meals for school lunch and dinner for our scholars, and cater to events, offices, and sports clinics outside of Payatas. The Café is growing as a social enterprise and is creating better employment for the mothers we work with.

Meanwhile, the first stage of the Payatas Sports Center was completed in 2016: Payatas FC has a home. Older players coach younger players and undergo coaching courses to learn positive and effective ways to coach. These kids receive a small allowance, reducing and eventually stopping the need for them to work as scavengers, and so creates positive benefits on and off the pitch. Once the futsal court was complete, the number of children playing football regularly with us doubled from 100 to 200. We expect by the end of 2017 there will be 500 kids playing football with us.

The next chapter of Fairplay’s story may well be the most exciting. The Fairplay Academy will be built on top of the Payatas Sports Center as the final model of our work. Here the Café, the School, and the Sports Center will combine to form a community. The Academy will provide quality education for 200 students, an expertise in alternative and progressive education to be shared with other NGOs, and will run sustainably through the social enterprises that build from our work.