Beckham in McKinley Stadium walking alongside Anton Del Rosario.

David Beckham was in Manila for less than a day but had time for a chat — and a game with kids

The former football superstar talked about what keeps him insecure, the changes in his style, and the importance of allowing children to get into sports.
Bam V. Abellon | Oct 14 2019

Clad in a dark Ralph Lauren suit and a sleek piece of Tudor, David Beckham arrived at his media conference at the Enderun Colleges in Taguig City, Sunday afternoon, October 13. The former superstar football player is here in Manila to promote AIA Philam Life insurance. He is the brand’s global ambassador.

It was a full day for the Englishman. In the morning he was at the McKinley Stadium, also in Taguig City, to participate in a football clinic organized by Philam Life 7, a tournament founded by former Philippine national football team member Anton Del Rosario.

Sunday morning was spent in a football clinic organized by Philam Life 7, a tournament founded by former Philippine national football team member Anton Del Rosario.

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This is Beckham’s third time in the Philippines. In 2011, he played against the Philippine Azkals football team—at the time, he was a player for LA Galaxy. In 2014, he visited the survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban City as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The conversations this time around revolved around living a healthy lifestyle and achieving balance in one’s life. The latter is something the globetrotting businessman is still trying to figure out. When he has time, he makes breakfast for his four kids (with fashion designer and businesswoman Victoria Beckham). He also tries to drive them to and pick them up from school. On the former, he says, a healthy lifestyle these days has a lot to do with getting enough sleep.

Beckham with AIA ambassadors Wil Dasovich, Mond Gutierrez, Solenn Heusaff and Nico Bolzico. To Beckham’s left is Leo Tan.

Beckham says he has cut down on his caffeine intake, and is trying really hard to put all his gadgets away by 9 p.m. “That’s the difficult one for most people that have businesses or work,” he says about limiting gadget use. “But it’s an important part of resting the mind and the body and preparing yourself for a good night’s sleep…I have to set an example for my kids, because our kids watch everything that we do.”

Things have changed a lot in the Beckham home, he says. These days, it’s all about the children: Brooklyn, 20; Romeo, 17; Cruz, 14; Harper, 8. Even his insecurities—yes, he still has some—are about them.

He says, “As much as you try to be a confident person and feel that you are always doing the right thing, you’re not. It’s as simple as that. Since I had children, I have been more secure in myself because I think children do that for you. I think you take on their insecurities more than worrying about your own. I think that’s just what happens with children…my insecurity is just anything around what my children do or say. That’s my responsibility now.”

David was given a sepak takraw as a token of appreciation from Leo Tan, Philam Life Chief Marketing Officer.

And speaking of change, there are two things that has seen enormous transformation since the 44-year-old left his 20s: his hairstyle and fashion. His clothes are “a lot more classic” now. And his hairstyle “a little bit more relaxed now, a little bit more sensible,” he says with a laugh. “In the past, maybe I did some crazy hairstyles, some hairstyles that I definitely won’t do now.”

But don’t get too accustomed to this relaxed, sensible and classic Beckham just yet. The former fashion rebel actually wouldn’t mind wearing his much-talked-about sarongs again. “I think that’s one of the look that I could bring back…Maybe I could buy some from here—even better.”

As much as he loves football, Beckham’s online footprint would show that, like a lot of Filipinos, he, too, is a huge fan of basketball—and of the LA Lakers. And he’d like to share this passion for sports to people around the globe, especially to kids.

“I also am a fan of kids playing any sport,” he says. “Because I think it’s important. It’s teambuilding. It gives them encouragement. It makes them feel good when they’re playing, when they’re good at something. So whether it’s football, basketball, tennis, hockey, whatever it is, I think it’s important for any child to play some kind of sport because it’s not about how you look. It’s how you feel. And doing some form or kind of exercise makes you feel good.”

In his professional career, however, football still takes center stage.

In 2007, he started a deal with Major League Soccer (MLS), a men’s professional soccer league in the United States. MLS is sanctioned by the official governing body of United States football, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF).

After years of talks, Inter Miami, an MLS franchise that he co-owns, will have its first game on February 2020. “It has been a longtime coming,” he says. He is predicting it would be an “emotional” and “proud” moment. The footballer retired in 2013 after winning 19 major trophies during his senior career. “I know what I’ve been through to get to this point.”