By By Pablo A. Tariman
The loneliness of a Filipino football star
posted 10-Apr-2018  ·  
688 views  ·   0 comments  ·  
The young orphan as promising football champ. Search for biological mother was in vain.

Any documentary on a sports personality requires a certain affinity with the game of the director’s choice.

Hurdling difficult challenges is common stuff in sports docus and usually they chronicle the rise and triumph of the subject amidst unbearable circumstances.

But the documentary -- “Journeyman Finds Home: The Simone Rota Story” co-directed by Albert Almendralejo and Maricel Cariaga – is something else.

It documents the early passion for football of a Filipino orphan who grew up in Milan and midway into his adult years, he yearned for home and got curious about his biological parents.

It turned out Simone Rota is a result of teenage pregnancy and was entrusted to Buklod Kalinga orphanage in Parañaque in 1984. Maurizio and Marilena Rota adopted him (along with another baby named Valentina) and ended up spending his childhood years in Milan where he fell in love with football.  He rose to become a professional footballer and played for various professional teams.

In 2013, he was recruited to join the   Philippine National team, the Azkals and made his debut in a friendly match against Malaysia. He scored his first international goal during the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup against Laos.  He plays for the Davao Aguilas in the Philippine Football League but will most likely join the Azkals in the Asian Cup elimination match against Tajikistan on March 27 at the Rizal Memorial stadium in Manila.

As it is, the documentary is a product of three years of interviews, research, and filming. Rated A by the Cinema Evaluation Board, the documentary is the first directorial venture of Almendralejo who earlier produced the football-themed docus “Little Azkals” and “Pangarap Kong World Cup,” and the feature films “Tumbang Preso” and “Bakal Boys.”

The director pointed out he was motivated to tell Simone’s story because it offers hope amid difficult times.

The grownup orphan’s voice at the end of the film is very apt: “Football is not only passion or the game. It's about giving everything. It's my life.”

Indeed, there are many things going for this documentary.

How a Filipino easily adopted to football as though it were his native sport is a tribute to his foster parents who showered him with unconditional love and encouraged him to pursue his passion.

It has an unusual setting when the subject – in his adult years – settled in the very same orphanage where he was found. He ended up playing foster father to a girl who grew up without a father figure.

But how he kept his courage and perseverance after he suffered major injury is another chapter of his life worth emulating.

Indeed, one saw the heart and soul of football in “Journeyman Finds Home: The Simone Rota Story.”

His meteoric rise to football stardom in between his search for his biological mother makes the documentary doubly engrossing.

What emerged is a football player with a heart along with the orphan who grew up with a beautiful soul.

This documentary is a must viewing for all athletes and non-athletes alike!

(The latest screening for the media and football enthusiasts was made possible by The Davao Aguilas FC, the professional football club based in Tagum, Davao del Norte.)

Football star Simone Rota in action. From Paranaque orphanage to Milan.
Poster of the Simone Rota film docu. The heart and soul of football in one documentary.
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