Former Pinoy street kid gets rugby scholarship in NZ
A former street kid won a four-week scholarship with rugby club Inside Running Academy in Mt Maunganui, New Zealand, a year after playing for the Philippine Volcanoes, Stuff.co.nz reported on Sunday.
Lito Ramirez, a member of the Volcanoes for last year's Rugby Sevens qualifiers for the 2016 Olympic Games, underwent training with a group of international players and earned praises for his speed and footwork.
""As a rugby player he's got really good feet, speed and agility. This transfers well to the sevens game. So here we are trying to grow his fifteens game more," Stuff quoted Inside Running Academy director Mike Rogers as saying about Ramirez.
"His strength, his technical focus around the tackle and ruck."
The Filipino player was profiled by Stuff.co.nz in May it noted that he was abandoned by his parents with his older brother with no birth certificate when he was about five or six.
"I don't have idea about my parents because I don't remember them. I don't know where they are," Ramirez had said.
Ramirez was brought to the Tuloy Foundation, an orphanage in the Philippines, at the age of 11 and learned to play rugby at 13 by watching YouTube videos with his Tuloy brothers.
He and a few boys from Tuloy left the orphanage in 2012 and joined Mavericks Rugby Club.
Since then, Ramirez made the country's development squad in 2014, earned a gold medal at the 2015 Philippine National Games, and a place in the Volcanoes for the Rio 2016 qualifying tournament.
Of his spot in the Volcanoes, Ramirez said, "I'm proud for myself because plenty of Filipinos play rugby and I'm the one who's selected in the team. I didn't expect that. I just want to play rugby, that's it." —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News