Non-league footballer captains Philippines after typhoon

Rob Gier

A non-league footballer who captained the Philippines a week after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the country says cancelling the game was not an option.

Rob Gier, who plays for Ascot United in the ninth tier of English football, was involved in the nation's first outing following the typhoon which killed over 4,000 people - a 1-1 draw with India.

"It was our chance to show people that we're thinking of them," Gier said.

The 33-year-old played 71 times for Wimbledon between 2000-04.

Gier was called up to the Philippines national team in 2009 while playing for Grays Athletic, following spells at Rushden and Diamonds, Cambridge United, Woking and Aldershot.

The defender, who has family who live in the area surrounding the devastated city of Tacloban, admitted it was hard for his Philippines team-mates to return to playing football.

"It was really strange and emotional," he told BBC World Football: "We all feel helpless and this is the first opportunity we've got to give a bit of positivity to the people back there."

Gier added that his family home near Tacloban "has been flattened" and there remains concern over family members who are still missing over three weeks since the typhoon struck.

"It was really strange and emotional," he said. "We all feel helpless and this is the first opportunity we've got to give a bit of positivity to the people back there."

"You're trying to concentrate on the game and prepare right while seeing pictures on the TV of people who haven't got any food. It's been a really strange time.

"I said to the guys before that it's really important to put on a good show. I know us winning the game wasn't going to put food on the table and wasn't going to rebuild houses, but whatever we could do to bring a bit of positivity back to the people back there was going to be really important."

Rob Gier

Sunil Chhetri found the net for India in the international friendly in the United Arab Emirates, but Phil Younghusband equalised within a minute, as Philippines held the hosts to a draw.

"At no point did we ever talk about cancelling the game with India. We were out there already and everything was already taken care of - it didn't seem right to cancel the game.

"Both the UAE and India let us have a minute's silence which was an important time to reflect just before the game," Gier added.

The Ascot-born centre-back, who is also the European scout for the Philippines, admits that he hopes the game can provide renewed hope to the country.

"Football is this wonderful thing that brings the whole world together and can highlight different things throughout the world, so if it can help highlight all the trouble that is going on in the Philippines at the moment, then that's all that we need.

"This is not a thing just for football it's a time for humanity to pull together and try and help those most in need."

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