After initially receiving a prior batch of these deflate-proof balls from One World Play, Football for Humanity is set to receive more of these robust footballs with the help of Expo 2020 Dubai. Inspired by year 2020, when the expo is scheduled to be held, the Philippine-based foundation is set to be awarded 2,020 of these balls.
The special thing about these footballs is they can last in places amidst harsh climates and conditions, giving kids situated in such places the chance to enjoy the sport without the worry of the balls getting deflated through puncture or wear and tear.
Meanwhile, Expo 2020 Dubai’s aim for giving such a sizeable donation is to facilitate collaboration and strengthening ties within communities while spreading happiness through the sport of football.
Expo 2020 Dubai is a massive upcoming event, with none other than four-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi of Argentina serving as its global ambassador.
The FC Barcelona superstar gave a statement through an interview clip about the upcoming Expo.
“A football team can only succeed by working together, and the same is true for humanity. When people from different nations, cultures and backgrounds come together , we can better address global challenges and create a brighter future for generations to come,” according to Messi.
Football for Humanity’s founder and president, Chris Thomas, meanwhile shared his thoughts on such a massive development for his organization on the collaborative end.
“These are the very same values we promote in Football for Humanity, where our credo is Bringing nations together. It’s very inspiring and motivating to be a part of the movement that cuts across countries, regardless of race or creed, to promote that dream of unity,” said Chris Thomas.
Football for Humanity co-founder Belle Tiongco also provided a statement on the impact of such a donation by Expo 2020 Dubai and its collaboration with Football for Humanity will be.
“Football for Humanity is very fortunate, and thankful to be able to be the channel which will be able to bring the joy, and the power of football, to thousands of Filipino youth. These donations, these projects are a testament to the goodness of the human spirit, and that we are very proud to be associated with individuals and organizations, here and abroad, who build, who uplift, who reach out to inspire and motivate in the midst of difficulty and suffering. Football does bring hope.”
Football for Humanity recently launched its Play for Goals initiative, an expanded community development program beginning with Zonta Village in Barangay Tibungco, Davao which is not just focused on football – with the creation of a small-sided pitch – but also provide a more holistic approach in helping out the community by providing a library and a clean-water facility.
Along with Football for Humanity, Play for Goals has come into fruition in partnership with Library Renewal Partners and Waves for Water. The collaborative project of these three organizations aims to develop marginalized communities all over the Philippines, with the aforementioned village in Davao as the first site. And with the virtually indestructible Expo 2020 Dubai balls making their way into these communities will definitely do their part by giving joy to the children on the football pitch.
After a week of fixtures in the 2019 Philippines Football League that produced a total of sixteen goals, and with six of the seven participating teams seeing action at least once, here is the first edition of the Team of the Week.
With Kaya FC Iloilo able to maintain their perfect start to the season after two matches, and without conceding a goal, it is not surprising that a very big chunk of the Team of the Week lineup is taken by their players.
Also, this could be the only edition that an honorable mention will be included for reasons that cannot be ignored.
Center Forward: Jordan Mintah (Kaya FC Iloilo)
Direct and explosive, Jordan Mintah finally got his lethal form back in front of goal after a lengthy recuperation from a knee injury that he suffered a year ago.
His hat-trick in the opening game against Green Archers United followed by an insurance goal against a hard-fought battle against Stallion Laguna put the Ghanaian forward in joint top spot of the individual goalscoring table with four markers.
Support Striker: Bienve Marañon (Ceres-Negros)
A cunning attacker who mainly operates in and around the box, but can also deliver the goods whether from the run of play or a dead-ball situation Bienve has been one of the main elements of Ceres-Negros’ rise to the top in Philippine football and as one of the best clubs in Southeast Asia.
Now, as the 2019 season begins, the Spanish striker is on a very bright start boosted by a hat-trick during The Busmen’s match against Air Force to add to his first goal in the domestic league off a draw against Stallion for a total of four goals that propels him as one of the top scorers at the moment.
Support Striker: Christian Zubiri (Green Archers United)
Definitely the impact player for this week, Christian Zubiri delivered the goal for Green Archers that proved to be the winner in the match against Global.
With the tie very much in the balance, and the possibility of a lackluster draw or even another disappointing loss looming on the horizon, Christian changed all that with his introduction in the second half, first with an immediate threatening attempt, followed by that pivotal 72nd-minute strike that put the WFL champions on to the winning column.
The fact that Zubiri’s involvement in the match against Global was his first for the Archers’ campaign, the DLSU-alum’s stellar few minutes could provide a good reason for head coach Joel Villarino to put him as a starter in the next fixture.
Left Winger: Curt Dizon (Ceres-Negros)
Although Curt Dizon did not start during Ceres’ league opener against Stallion, the left winger was able to maximize the opportunity given to him as a starter in his club’s second assignment by scoring a brace and delivering an assist during their 5-0 win against Philippine Air Force.
His pace and dynamism while operating mainly on the left flank have been his main strengths which provided The Busmen the needed width that complemented their wing play for goal-scoring chances during the match.
Midfielder: Jovin Bedic (Kaya FC Iloilo)
Club captain Jovin Bedic has been one of the threats and creators for his squad on both of Kaya’s fixtures at the opening week of the PFL.
But, his 25th minute opener from the penalty spot against Stallion proved to be the most crucial as it set the tone in a clash that was anticipated as semthing that could go either way. In the end, his goal proved telling as it helped Kaya towards a monumental 2-0 win to maintain their perfect start to the season.
Midfielder: Darryl Roberts (Kaya FC Iloilo)
One of the main cogs in Kaya FC’s perfect start to the PFL season, Darryl has been instrumental for his club by being a facilitator or an additional threat as an attacking midfielder.
One of his forays into the box against Stallion actually resulted to Jovin Bedic’s penalty kick goal that proved telling towards a hard-fought away win.
Right Midfielder/Winger: Nathan Alquiros (Stallion Laguna)
One of the bright spots in Stallion’s promising squad this 2019 PFL campaign, his work ethic and creativity from the right side of the pitch provided the much needed impetus for his squad.
A man-of-the-match award in that massive draw against defending champions Ceres has been a testament to his qualities. Meanwhile, despite dropping their second assignment at home against Kaya, Alquiros actually produced what could have been an equalizing goal for Stallion if only opposing goalkeeper Michael Casas wasn’t able to pull off a massive intervention.
Defender: Martin Steuble (Ceres-Negros)
Although Ceres-Negros’ defensive qualities might be considered not to be playing at par to their usually lofty standards, Martin Steuble could be considered an exception due to his contributions on the other end.
A steady supplier of promising chances for his club with his deliveries into the box as a wing-back, he’s also an occasional goalscorer in desperate situations, as exemplified with his spectacular 24th minute equalizer against Stallion.
Defender: Masanari Omura (Kaya FC Iloilo)
Kaya’s long-serving sentinel, has always been a stabilizing force at the backline a clean sheet on both against the Green Archers and Stallion are evident of his contributions as a central defender.
But what puts him in this season’s first edition of Team of the Week is his quality assist from deep to Jayson Panhay that led to a goal two minutes shy of the hour mark against Green Archers. Such a moment of quality distribution, plus the fact that he can be an offensive option (and score) in set-piece situations make him one of Kaya’s most important players.
Defender: Tyler Matas (Kaya FC Iloilo)
A defensive machine for Kaya, Tyler Matas’ work ethic and reliability at the back cannot be denied.
But his ability to supply those precise and threatening long throw-ins towards the oppositions’ box for strikers to pounce on, reminiscent of Stoke City FC’s Rory Delap, put him in this list.
Case in point when it comes to his long throws, is the one he pulled off against Green Archers last May 25 that led to Jordan Mintah’s 18th minute goal.
Goalkeeper: Michael Casas (Kaya FC Iloilo)
Despite only starting for his club’s second match, Michael Casas stood his ground for a commendable shift against a formidable Stallion team.
Considered a massive clash between two teams expected to be within the league’s top three, the agile shot-stopper was able to keep Stallion at bay to deny a possible comeback, notching a clean sheet in the process (the club’s second in as many games) for a monumental away win.
Honorable Mention: Kenneth Dolloso (GK, Philippine Air Force FC)
Despite ending up conceding a total of five goals, Air Force’s Kenneth Dolloso produced an inspired performance to keep Ceres-Negros’ lead to just one after the first half.
Along with that torrential shift between the posts, he was still able to avert an even more lopsided scoreline by saving several shots from the defending champions – a truly commendable effort by the Airmen’s custodian.
Week 1 Match Results
May 25, 2019: Kaya 4-0 Green Archers Utd; Stallion 2-2 Ceres May 29, 2019: Stallion 0-2 Kaya; Air Force 0-5 Ceres; Green Archers Utd 1-0 Global
Pro-football is alive once again in the country as the third season of Philippines Football League (PFL) has finally commenced with a double header concluding in Rizal Memorial Stadium last Saturday, May 25, 2019.
The first fixture, which kicked off late in the afternoon saw Copa Paulino Alcantara champions Kaya-Iloilo as the winners after registering a comfortable 4-0 win against league newcomers Green Archers United.
The almost one-sided match was then followed by a highly anticipated clash between defending champions Ceres-Negros and a much reinforced Stallion Laguna which delivered on its hype, ending in a 2-2 draw in what could possibly a meeting between two of the three clubs that could be the Philippines’ next AFC tournament representatives.
With four of the total seven teams already done with their first assignments, here are the initial talking points regarding the league after the start of Season 3:
Battle for trophy and AFC spot could be the toughest yet
With Stallion Laguna surprising Ceres – considerably the best club in the country at present – with a 2-2 draw, it is possible that the Bacolod-based club’s predictable domination of seasons past could be coming to an end.
Although The Busmen are still being tipped to win this season for the first and outright AFC Champions League or AFC Cup berth, Coach Risto Vidakovic’s men could be pushed to the limit to wrest their third PFL trophy, with a slim chance of even coming up short it if they slip up in the same way as they have shown in the draw against Stallion.
With Coach Ernest Nierras’ Biñan-based club hungry to build a run of positive results after two seasons of inconsistencies, add to that Coach Noel Marcaida and his Kaya-Iloilo wards’ drive to be back in the continental stage after falling short in surviving the 2019 AFC Cup group stage, Ceres should be wary of their backs as they attempt to maintain the pace and keep setting the standard in Philippine club football, particularly their continental ambitions.
TV would still help a lot (on top of livestream)
It is such a shame that the scintillating match between Ceres and Stallion flew under the radar for the most part due to unavailability of traditional live media such as TV and radio. Same thing with the quality of Kaya Iloilo and the potential of Green Archers United that were shown during the earlier fixture.
But given the situation with the PFL being revived in haste due to valid circumstances that significantly delayed the season’s start, a TV (or even radio) deal is yet to be confirmed.
Yes, livestream on the internet has been a very helpful form to fill the void, but the medium still has some limitations that limit the matches’ full accessibility to the masses particularly to the fanbases outside Metro Manila such as Bacolod and Iloilo (even Biñan to an extent).
Hopefully, a reasonable TV deal could be ironed out and matches will be aired soon.
Interesting campaigns for newcomers and rebuilding clubs
Despite Green Archers United turning out to be on the receiving end of a comprehensive 4-0 beating at the hands of “Man of the Match” Jordan Mintah and the rest of Kaya, the vanquished squad actually showed glimpses of their quality and potential particularly in the second half.
Head Coach Joel Villarino’s wards could actually face a much realistic litmus test in this league when they face co-league debutants Air Force and Mendiola FC 1991, as well as a rebuilding Global Makati (which they face on May 29).
At the moment (on paper at least), there seems to be a demarcation line on the quality of the pool of competitors in the PFL as the most probable top three (Ceres, Kaya and Stallion) would likely pull away from the rest of the pack in their quest for the trophy and a continental berth, while the four new and rebuilding clubs would battle it out for the honor of being the best of the rest.
It would be very much welcome if this assumed gap in quality be proven wrong as the season comes to a conclusion, and at least one of the four aforementioned clubs predicted to be in the bottom four would end up in the top three. But for now, it is just refreshing to see these league newcomers, yet established names in the Philippine footballing community, compete in the top flight and show their distinct styles of play.
Filipino football club Ceres-Negros has established itself as the undisputed kings of football in the country at present, and they’re making big strides internationally as well. A recent release in the AFC club rankings by footyrankings.com put them almost at the top of the ASEAN region as of May 22, 2019.
Looking at their significant achievements in the past few seasons, it awe-inspiring as to what made this Western Visayas club reach such heights in such a short period of time since its founding in 2012.
Let’s take a look into some of the many things that made Ceres-Negros such a machine in Philippine and Southeast Asian club football.
Since their existence as a competitive club, The Busmen – as they have been fondly known, have been relentless in their pursuit of winning the tournaments that they’ve participated in.
From their participation in the PFF National Men’s Club Championship in 2012, up to the 2018 Philippines Football League (PFL) campaign, Ceres-Negros were able to win every single year with 2016 as the only exception when they failed to successfully defend their United Football League Division 1 title ending as runners-up.
Right from its inception, tasting success for the first time seemed to have made them addicted to it that driving the club to mount an era of domination, which they did for the past few years.
Risto Vidakovic: Mastermind at the helm
The early glory years of the club in the domestic scene from 2012 to 2016, when they were then known as Ceres-LaSalle, can be attributed to Filipino head coaches Ali Go and Frank Muescan, and Korea’s Cha Seung-ryong. A potential for greatness was paved in these early years. But come 2016, a new head coach, Risto Vidakovic, took the reins with the rest of Philippine club football not knowing the current great era that is about to transpire from the island of Negros.
A Serbian who started his playing career in his home country with Sarajevo and Red Star Belgrade, Coach Risto eventually moved to Spain in the mid-90’s where he played for top flight clubs Real Betis and Osasuna. After his playing days have come to an end he then embarked on a head-coaching career in Spain with clubs such as Cadiz and Osasuna, then briefly managing in Honduras before that all-crucial move to the Philippines to be the mentor of a very promising Ceres-Negros team.
What followed in his tenure as head coach could be considered as the one that ushered the club’s highest point in its current history. The system and type of football that Coach Risto introduced proved to be ruthlessly effective in the domestic front. Add to those the astute acquisitions that the club as made with regards to the type of players who came into the club and his technical approach proved to be a perfect fit that propelled the squad to surprising, yet well-deserved results.
Also, the creation of a fully professional league in the country (the PFL) and the Filipino club teams’ eligibility to participate in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) tournaments that began the previous year provided the perfect storm towards an unprecedented golden age for the club as Coach Risto guided his wards to uncharted territories for each campaign with milestone upon milestone of results.
The journey of 2017
2017 season would prove to be the watershed for the Bacolod-based club as it achieved the distinction of becoming the first ever champions of the PFL. To top it all off, on the international club competition front, Ceres became the first Filipino club to conquer the ASEAN zone of the AFC Cup and reach the Interzone semifinals.
During that campaign, the Busmen were able to defeat Malaysian giants Johor Darul Ta’zim and Singapore’s Home United in the process, only for their progress to the Interzone finals be halted by Istiklol of Tajikistan.
That year most probably put Ceres on the map of Asian football as one of the fast-rising clubs in the continent. The players who led the way then, Stephan Schröck, Manny Ott, Iain Ramsay, and Bienvenido Marañon, to name a few, further endeared them to the club’s passionate fans.
The particular season instilled a certain belief to the squad that was able to spill into the early part of the 2018 campaign when The Busmen were able to reach the playoff stage of the AFC Champions League qualification only to be stopped in their tracks by Anthony Modeste and the rest of a then formidable Tianjin Quanjian of China which boasted internationally recongnizable players such as Alexandre Pato of Brazil and Axel Witsel of Belgium.
A legacy “in-progress”
With another PFL title and an appearance in the AFC Cup ASEAN Zone Final in 2018 Ceres-Negros no doubt are in the midst of building a lasting legacy for their young history as a club while in this period of domestic dominance and international repute. In spite of these amazing progress that the club is experiencing, Coach Risto himself is still in awe of what the club has achieved.
“It’s very hard to explain (this level of success) because nobody expected it. I think what we reached, especially in becoming on of the best Southeast Asian clubs in the AFC ranking is a long way, especially the three years that (passed) in the AFC competitions. It’s not easy to (achieve) that,” Vidakovic shared.
The coach also mentioned the ownership who helped make all things possible from a financial standpoint.
“Especially, it’s a big effort from the owner of the club (Leo Rey Yanson) to keep these players together, to invest so (much) money in football in a country where football is not so important. Where football is not the number one sport.
“It’s something that, maybe, nobody could recognize now. (But) maybe in the future, somebody will talk about it,” added the gaffer.
Indeed, Ceres-Negros will not reach its current status as a now internationally recognized club in Asia if not for the monumental efforts and resources provided by club owner and chairman Leo Rey Yanson who, with his passion, has given so much to put the club to its relatively lofty heights in the Philippine football setup.
This Ceres-Negros team, as an organization, has been doing wonders not just in the city that they represent, but the whole club football scene in the Philippines. Consider the people of Bacolod blessed in pro-football because of this.
In this modern and internet-dominated world, it’s hard to believe that a legend is brewing in Philippine football right at this moment. But that is what’s happening with Ceres-Negros and it is possible that they are creating a blueprint for other Filipino clubs to follow or even improve upon in the future.
Given the delayed growth of football in the Philippines as a spectator sport, Ceres-Negros’ current rise is hard to compare with the current giants of the game. Barcelona? Manchester United? Liverpool? Not quite.
The tradition and lore, is yet to be fully established for this club. But their reputation is on an exponential trajectory making this particular phase of their existence something that will define them later on.
These past few years are what is building Ceres-Negros’ legend, and the parallelism for this exciting new club in Southeast Asia is hard not to be compared to. That comparison goes to somewhere in time when it shares a bit of a resemblance with – back to an era when football was at its inflection point towards being the most popular in the world, back to almost 80 years ago in Argentina when River Plate forged its legend from that stellar 1940’s squad.
One of the biggest teams in Argentina and in the footballing world in terms of historic significance, River Plate of Buenos Aires became what it is because of a generation of players who played a style of football so pleasing to the eye. Along with the flair came a string of successful league campaigns that built its lore, earning the hefty moniker “La Maquina” (The Machine).
The mechanical element in this label does not denote monotony or boring repetition. On the contrary, it’s more of a general picture of artfulness in terms of the intricacy and complication in that particular squad’s game, a melding of elements working together for a bigger purpose, like a magnum opus of a Swiss master watchmaker that never fails to mesmerize with its complexities and features.
This is the similar ethos that Ceres-Negros seem to share and exhibit, creating a reputation of positive football with a certain level of excellence that is catching the attention of their peers not just locally, but even overseas.
But it wasn’t a philosophy borne out of a whim for The Busmen, but out of necessity according to Coach Risto Vidakovic.
“I think (our) style of play depends on the players. We have small players, but are technically very good, (and) fast. And I think we cannot practice another kind of football because it’s very hard to play long balls if you don’t have tall players (up front) so we try to build up (and) play a passing game – playmaking football… I just adapt on the conditions of the players.”
In the end, it’s an adaptation resulting to a playing style that became the club’s strength and signature, and it was demonstrated to the fore during the recently concluded group phase of the 2019 AFC Cup campaign where The Busmen amassed a 57% average possession with an 83% passing accuracy.
With back-to-back domestic titles in the professional era, and a consistency shown by reaching the knockout phase on the continental front in the AFC Cup, the results and milestones have been a testament to the effectivity of Ceres-Negros’ current playing philosophy as it pushes them to further establish themselves in club football.
Technical, intricate, dynamic, effective – these words describe the current system of play that Bacolod’s men in yellow manifest on the pitch as they continue to carve their path and set the bar in Philippine club football as a unit.
Philippines’ “La Maquina” – Ceres-Negros FC – powering the bus into high gear.
Cardiff City FC’s Filipino goalkeeper Neil Etheridge is in the country for a three-week vacation. But he made time for the media in order to impart some of his experiences in the recently concluded Premier League season and his plans with regards to the Azkals and what’s next for him with Cardiff City.
During the roundtable, he shared his personal views regarding Cardiff City FC’s Premier League campaign and how the season unfolded.
Despite his club eventually being relegated down to the Championship after the 2018-19 campaign, the Filipino shot-stopper was able to come up with a commendable performance all-season long, notching 10 clean sheets with 141 total saves and three penalty saves (two of which were in his Premier League debut).
“At the end of the day, it’s a team sport… You win together, you lose together,” Etheridge shared to the media focusing more on the team rather than dwelling on his personal achievements and milestones.
“Ultimately, at the end of the season, we fell short by two points and were unable to stay in the (Premier) League,” added Neil.
STILL A BLUEBIRD
It is to note though that given the Azkals sentinel’s commendable efforts and good overall form in manning the posts for The Bluebirds, despite the drop to the Championship for next season, speculations started to hover regarding Neil in terms of a possible return to the top flight via a transfer to a Premier League club, with West Ham as one of the first of such to be rumoured as having an interest.
However, amidst such rumours, Cardiff City’s current first choice sentry made it clear that, at this very moment, he is still with the Welsh club.
“At the end of the day, I (still) got two years left in my contract with Cardiff (City) and the future is out of my hands,” Etheridge shared.
CONTINUING WITH THE AZKALS
Neil Etheridge also touched on his current situation with the Azkals declaring that he wants to be in the squad, particularly in the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers in September this year.
He also emphasised that he has been with the Philippine National Team for 11 years, starting when he was just 18-years-old, and with such a length of involvement, he doesn’t want to just drop all those just for the sake of concentrating on his club career.
“I want to continue being a part of the Azkals. I feel like I have a lot more to give,” said Neil.
A SUCCESSFUL TESTAMENT OF WILL AND FORTITUDE
It has been known that Neil’s path to the current level he is in right now as a highly regarded goalkeeper has not been easy.
A promising career early on experienced challenges along the way. However, his persistence and focus eventually put him back at an upward trajectory towards the highest level of competition possible in England – the Premier League.
Such success story make him an example for many. Hence, when asked for advise and message of encouragement in conquering obstacles, especially to people who look up to him as an inspiration here’s what the now larger-than-life Azkal has to say:
“First of all thank you to everyone who supported me. It has been a long journey to get to where I am. It hasn’t been easy. It was a roller-coaster ride. But, ultimately, I think I have the ability to get to where I am. Challenges aren’t just on the field, but off the field too.”
“I’m talking to everyone who’s doing their own job (but are) finding it hard, to look always for the positives, always try to find the light at the end of the tunnel because there’s always one and I hope they find it one day.”
A career in football is fleeting. Usually a top player fortunate enough to experience considerable longevity in terms of playing at the highest level lasts 15 years tops, but usually much less than that.
During the UAAP Season 81 Men’s Football Final which Ateneo narrowly won against main rivals La Salle in an epic encounter one player saved the Blue Eagles from facing a bitter end to their campaign by scoring the late equalizer. That player is none other than their talisman and top-striker Jarvey Gayoso.
As Ateneo clinched the title after extra-time with a 2-1 scoreline, Gayoso emerged as the season MVP with 12 goals under his belt, cementing his name in the process as a legend for his school through his massive contributions to help achieve a two-trophy haul in the four seasons that he has donned the blue-and-white.
Four seasons. Four years. That’s how long he’s been playing in the UAAP. Now at 22 years old, the prolific forward-winger still has an option to suit up for another year and maximize his playing eligibility for Ateneo.
But the manner that this season ended, a resounding success in a head-fought final against their fiercest competitors, could be the icing on the cake and a sign that he might go pro.
Ateneo head coach Jaypee Merida provided a hint that the departure of his most lethal talent is a possibility as mentioned in a post-match interview that he is already looking for someone who will step in place of Jarvey come the next season.
But, Jarvey himself was mum on the matter, mentioning that he is first celebrating the achievement rather than thinking what’s next when it comes to playing in the UAAP for another season or not.
Personally, this writer would like to see him take his talents to the next level. But it wouldn’t be surprising if he returns to the UAAP for another year. The reason? He is setting himself up for life off the pitch.
MORE TO LIFE THAN FOOTBALL
Jarvey Gayoso, if he is really intent of being a pro at the earliest possible time could have hung up his boots after winning the UAAP championship in his sophomore year. But the fact that he added two more years, the usual duration of a full college course tenure, means he is intent in focusing on school first.
In the Philippine setting, aside from earning a diploma, him being in a well-known school in the country gives him an opportunity not just to learn, but to create a platform that would help him succeed in a different career path if ever football doesn’t work out. Whether it be in the corporate world, or in business whatever it may be, he will have a fallback.
Jarvey’s lengthy football career in the college level could be taken into contrast to former University of the Philippines defender Marco Casambre who went pro early, featured as a starter for the senior national team days shy of his 18th birthday, and is now plying his trade with Thai League 1 club Chainat Hornbill.
But in comparison to Marco, whose role lies in the backline, the now Ateneo legend, being an attacking player (and being good at it) as a winger/forward, is bound to get more attention from general football fans be expectant for his decision to take his talents to a much higher level.
Jarvey Gayoso’s choice to spend at least four years playing for his school might not be a popular one for fans, but it is the right move in the long run as it shows that there are more important things in life than football. Add to that the fact that he has now become a hero and a legend for his university by being its savior after being just minutes away from their UAAP Season 81 falling into tatters.
THE BEST HOMEGROWN TALENT?
Jarvey Gayoso could be the next generational homegrown talent in Philippine Football. Despite his still raw abilities as an amateur, he has shown natural instincts in front of goal that can help him become a successful footballer in the domestic top-flight (at the very least).
His exploits with the junior national team by being one of the small rays of hope in generally lackluster campaigns by finding the back of the net, and his breakthrough performance – with a spectacular header to boot – for a hastily formed national squad that reached the Bangabandhu Cup 2018 semifinals in Bangladesh, are a glimpse of what he can offer at the most competitive level of the sport where he can still improve much more as a player.
His quality was again displayed during the recently concluded final against La Salle, as Ateneo were on the brink of losing against their opponents within 90 minutes of regulation plus injury time. Jarvey Gayoso was, for the most part, kept at bay by the La Sallians’ defense. It was almost a frustrating final for the winger until he was able to bury the opportunity given to him in added time to give his team a lifeline en-route to winning the tie after extra time.
From a purely footballing standpoint, ideally, Jarvey should have gone pro after helping Ateneo win UAAP Season 79 in his second year. But making the leap to the pros as a player who plays in a highly competitive role – a winger/forward – there are just too many variables that need to be considered.
Variables such as the risk of injuries, wrong decisions – wrong club, wrong management, not being the right fit in a system – all these compounded by the reality when it comes to local football such as the uncertainty when it comes to the domestic professional league, Jarvey Gayoso’s decision to delay going into the pros all the more makes it a right one.
WAITING FOR “JAVIER” TO ARRIVE
In as much as I (as a football fan) would like Jarvey to don a professional club kit, step into the pitch, and test his mettle at a much higher level of competition, this UAAP off-season is bound to be a waiting game up until the next Philippine transfer window.
Jarvey’s situation in a way, shows the state of Philippine Football where discovering and nurturing talent is still behind compared to other footballing nations. In other countries where football is a major sport, his natural talent could likely merit him (at a much earlier age) to be scouted and developed by a football academy for a pathway to a career at the senior pro level.
Whatever choice the Ateneo football star takes regarding his career has to be respected. But when he finally decides commit fully as a professional, at 22- or 23-years-old, he needs to catch up. Whether he’ll still be able to reach and maximize his full potential by then or be a case of “What if?” is a different story.
It has been a long-time coming, but when the moment that the Blue Eagles’ footballing legend announces his arrival in club football, then it’s time for Jarvey to be Javier (a proper footballer name), and hopefully feature for the senior Azkals, and be the next to follow the footsteps of one of the Philippines’ most recent homegrown football stars, Chieffy Caligdong.
Although the multi-titled coach (who won the AFC Futsal Championship with Iran, the AFF and SEA Games titles with Thailand) will not be mentoring a national squad, his main reason for his presence here is to share his knowledge of the sport, particularly in the Asian setting, to help lay the foundation for futsal’s growth domestically.
“We are thrilled to have one of the fathers of the modern game of futsal in the Philippines to help us develop futsal from the grassroots and youth. We are not bringing Coach Vic here to coach a national team, but we are partnering with him to work with us and the PFF in laying out a pathway to develop for this sport,” said Henry V. Moran Foundation Chairman, Danny Moran.
“Vic has a proven track record, and with his vast expertise in Asia and his knowledge of Asian cultures, we want him to focus on helping the Philippines establish a foundation where we can use the sport to give millions of Filipino children the chance and the opportunity to succeed in life,” added Mr. Moran.
The Henry V. Moran foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the sport of futsal to public schools, charities, and communities across the country.
Futsal is an indoor variant of football and is five-a-side. Developed in Uruguay in the 1930’s, the sport was originally developed utilizing basketball courts. It eventually grew as a competitive sport that became a format in developing and producing technical players. It has also been a major contributor in the grassroots levels by engaging players from communities which do not have proper football facilities to be involved and participate in the sport and, in effect, be part of the larger footballing community.
Some of the world’s most technically adept and gifted footballers such as Neymar, Ronaldinho, Kaka and Iniesta played futsal early in their playing careers and credit the sport for contributing a big part in their development as footballers.
The MVP Sports Foundation, a giant in the Philippines when it comes to development at the grassroots level spanning multiple disciplines, is also partnering in this endeavor for domestic grassroots futsal.
“The MVP Sports Foundation has always been supportive of football development together with the PFF and other private entities like the Moran Foundation and Inspire Sports Academy. In supporting football’s growth, we are investing in futsal as a means to reach more Filipinos at the base and improve the technical skills of our local players. It is therefore our pleasure to be working with these partners to bring in a futsal legend like Mr. Vic Hermans in helping our country develop a long term, successful, and sustainable futsal program in the country,” said Mr. Vince Santos, MVP Sports Foundation’s Program Director.
Current state of futsal: Promising developments
Football is still currently still a niche sport in the Philippines, even more so when it futsal. But what’s encouraging is through the Henry V. Moran Foundation’s advocacy, futsal had an unlikely growing set of practitioners, which are the public schools, through the foundation’s Liga Eskwela Futsal Program.
In the few years that the program has been in existence, its growth in terms of the number of participating schools has been overwhelmingly positive – from eleven participants in the first year, to more than 300 public schools in the third year (thanks to the positive endorsement by the Department of Education).
Now heading into its fourth year, The Liga Eskwela Progam is now aiming to making it even bigger in scope by reaching more provinces in different regions.
Despite the growth of the program, the Moran Foundation still has plans in the pipe. When asked by the media on the possibility of futsal being a part of collegiate sports, Mr. Danny Moran responded that the foundation is in contacts with college sporting bodies like the UAAP and WNCAA to include futsal in the future seasons to provide continuity and opportunity as well for players to continue practicing their sport at a competitive level after the grassroots.
However, it has been emphasized that at the moment, that the focus of the foundations involved is to lay the groundwork for futsal in the country at the grassroots, a statement which was also agreed upon by Coach Vic Hermans.
A more practical variant of football for PH
The Philippines, being a tropical country that experiences harsh wet season, and hot and humid dry season, having topnotch facilities and even playing the traditional football can be a truly challenging and expensive ordeal. Maintenance of resources, welfare of participants and practitioners, and quality of play would generally require more effort compared to countries that are more naturally conducive for the sport.
This is where futsal, being an indoor sport, is at an advantage. With its more “weatherproof” venues, it can be played all year round. And its design setup being compatible to be shared with a basketball court (something that the Philippines is abundant with), the resources are almost complete (save for some additions).
If the current momentum of futsal’s steady growth can be sustained, or even improved, then the country will benefit in terms of the possible talents it can produce for the sport and, to an extent, football (as crossing over between the two happens quite normally).
Tasks at handin growing the sport
Since arriving in the Philippines on April 18, Coach Vic Hermans has already undergone an assessment tour of the country’s state in matters pertaining to grassroots futsal.
Some of the events that Coach Hermans has observed are the Palarong Pambansa in Davao and the Allianz National Youth Futsal Invitationals that were held in different major cities nationwide.
With the PFF, the MVP Sports Foundation and the Inspire Academy, Coach Vic will be conducting the AFC Futsal Level 2 training and licensing of local coaches and trainers. This will be held from May 20 to 26.
The Futsal Level 2 will be the first ever that will be done in the Philippines and will be carried out in alignment to the PFF’s plan and vision for futsal development.