A superb 2-5 win by National Capital Region FA (NCR FA) and a 3-0 victory via default in favor of Negros Occidental FA (NOFA) see both teams finish in the top two respectively in Group A of the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) Under-15 Boys National Championship which concluded last November 19 in the PFF Training Center in Carmona, Cavite.
In the early morning opener, a first half hat-trick by Dominic Tom (18′,37, 44′) edged out a promising resistance presented by Laguna FA with goals from Vincent Aaron Saludo (24′) and Louis Angelo Junio (29′) as the capital region’s representatives were able to nurse a slim 2-3 advantage heading into the break.
However, Laguna had no reply to an Andrei Gonzales 55th minute conversion which was then followed by a 69th minute Rodrigo Mariñas cushion in the second half, as NCR FA marched on to the final round of the competition in fine form.
For the subsequent fixture of the day, NOFA had their undefeated run in Group A confirmed without kicking a ball as they were awarded a 3-0 win via default when Cordillera RFA were a no show.
According to officials, via info gathered, Cordillera already left for Baguio last Saturday (November 16) presumably without any intent of playing their final match. It is yet being mulled on the sanction details that will be filed against the regional FA.
With the result, NOFA joins NCR FA to the final round with both teams getting an identical haul of 10-points (NCR edging the Western Visayans only through goal difference) in the standings.
However, with Group B still yet to commence after games were suspended indefinitely due to the recent earthquakes in Mindanao, determining who will complete the cast for the final round and the schedule on when the semifinals will begin are still to be determined.
National Capital Region (NCR) FA registered a lopsided win in Group A action during the opening day of Philippine Football Federation (PFF) U15 Boys National Championship 2019 held last November 11 at the PFF National Training Center in Carmona, Cavite.
NCR gave a stellar overall performance scoring in double-figures to post a one-sided 11-0 result in their opener against Federated FA of Masbate (FFAM), with Matthias Lozano scoring a hat-trick and Scott Mackenzi registering a brace as both led NCR in the goalscoring department.
Top scorer Matthias Lozano showed such high-level of form during his shift, providing more than enough damage already that he was substituted out just five minutes after the hour mark.
In the other match, Laguna romped to a 4-0 start to the championship with Louis Angelo Junio producing an inspired performance with two conversions to lead his team against Cordillera RFA.
The Southern Tagalogs got to a dream start with Junio getting the breakthrough in just the eighth minute. Roenz Bicua then doubled the lead seven minutes after the half-hour mark as Laguna ended the first half with a two-goal cushion.
In the second half, quick back-to-back goals from Vincent Saludo and Junio just a few moments past the hour mark, sealed the deal for Laguna FA as they secured a convincing result to begin their Championship campaign.
But come their second assignment that has just been recently concluded this November 13, Laguna suffered their first loss against Negros Occidental FA (NOFA), as they succumbed to a 0-2 defeat.
An early dagger inflicted by Mark Gabriel Cantos within the first minute of the match, followed by a late jugular from John Andrei Roldan in added time proved to be enough as the Western Visayans were able to get a perfect start to their campaign.
FFA Masbate meanwhile saw themselves still very much in the competition, getting a lifeline after they were able to crucially bounce back from the previous setback they suffered against NCR by dismantling Cordillera RFA with a 3-1 win on November 13.
Kervin Tacdoy seemed to have put his Northern Luzon-based squad in a very promising situation when he converted a chance in the 32nd minute, but a second-half fightback from the Masbateños proved to be enough as Carl James Zaragoza registered back-to-back goals in the 47th and 53rd minutes respectively, before Gian Francisco put any doubts to rest with an 85th minute icing on the cake.
The PFF National Championship will continue until November 19. The rest of the fixtures are below:
The National Championship is contested by the best teams which already progressed from the grinding Regional Group Stage that transpired from late June to late September this year.
Bohemian Sporting Club ends its contention in the on-going SingaCup U10 when its Team 1 was stopped in its tracks by Australian side Athletic Football Group by a score of 0-4 in the quarterfinals, the best finish so far by a Philippine-based club in both U8 and U10 divisions this 2019 edition.
The club, headed by Chairman and Philippine international footballer Jason de Jong, sent two teams in the U10 competition with Team 2 reaching the Round of 16 playoffs only to be eliminated by Alba FC of Indonesia also by a 4-0 scoreline.
Meanwhile other teams Philippine-based U10 contingents Manila Japanese FC and Sugod Malaya FC were only able to participate in the group stage after finishing third and fourth respectively (each group comprised of five teams with only the top two finishers heading into the Round of 16).
In the U8 division, sole Filipino participants Rovers FC of Davao were able to reach the Round of 16 after finishing third in their group (Top three teams in each of the two groups in U8 division qualify for the knockouts).
The Mindanao-based side were not able to reach the quarterfinals after being edged by Singapore’s Little League by a narrow 1-0 margin.
With the results, the Philippine contingents’ campaigns for the 2019 SingaCup U8 and U10 have come to their respective conclusions.
Come November 4, three divisions will commence their respective tournaments where the Philippines will be represented by PAREF Southridge (U12), Kaya Futbol Academy (U12, U14), Makati Football Club (U14), Great Oak Manor (U14), and Foobtall Funatics – FFAS (U16).
Host team Sagay City FC seized the 2nd Marañon Youth Cup championship after besting STI-West Negros University 2-1 in a closely contested final of the four-day tournament held in SNHS football ground in Sagay City, Negros Occidental last October 30.
A goal by Ryan Monares and Rohderick Rodriguez for Sagay proved enough to cancel STI -West Negros’ conversion by Zacharry Lacson to go all the way and earn the top prize.
The final result though may have put a dampener for STI-West Negros’ campaign which got a major haul of the individual honours as Chester Alipoon got the top-scorer award with four goals under his name while Arnulfo Urbon and Alexander Realino won the best midfielder and goalkeeper respectively.
The championship trophy proved to be doubly sweet though for wonder-kid Shiorenel Baril who also won the MVP plaudits after a memorable tournament as well as Japeth Mermida who was deemed as the best defender.
A total of nine teams, made up of school varsity and local amateur clubs, participated in the competition that transpired from October 26 to 30.
The tournament started in a two-group elemination phase where qualified teams headed into the knockouts starting with the quarterfinals until the ultimate decider.
A notable participation of Ateneo de Manila High School, all the way from the National Capital Region, ended in third place after beating Ilonggo Young Booters FC of Barotac by a score of 2-0.
Ateneo’s contention for the title ended in the semifinals when they suffered a narrow 1-0 loss at the hands of STI – West Negros University.
Also, a consolation plate competition was won by Central Philippine University FC after defeating Sigay FC by a 2-0 scoreline.
The 2019 Marañon Youth Cup is the second edition of the tournament hosted by Sagay City, Negros Occidental. It is a tournament for competitive club and varsity teams at the youth level as part of its football development program for the benefit of its local youth and is founded by Sagay City Mayor Alfredo “Thirdy” D. Marañon III with the help of Ceres-Negros FC.
Follow Sagay Football’s Facebook page for announcements on future competitions.
In-line with FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s recent visit to Manila in support of the country’s football development, one of the main topics touched was infrastructure, something that Football for Humanity (FFH) Foundation has been staunchly pouring out efforts onto for at least the past three years.
In one report, the FIFA president mentioned that with their organisation’s help, having more infrastructures for the sport, and more competitions at varying levels, will benefit the Philippines’ overall improvement in football.
Such a statement from the most powerful man in world football only further validates the objectives of Football for Humanity in creating football infrastructures that the community can freely use particularly for the children in order to plant the seeds and eventually cultivate a footballing culture and develop the fundamental individual skills, in an organic setup, in playing the sport.
Football for Humanity co-founder and vice-president, Ms. Belle Tiongco, believes the visit of FIFA’s highest executive is a positive impact for Philippine football.
“It’s very inspiring, FIFA coming here. Just that… the visit of the (federation’s) officials is already very inspiring because that means that the interest in football (in the Philippines) is really growing.”
Meanwhile, founder and president Chris Thomas, also shared the same sentiment.
“I think the president of FIFA coming to the Philippines is a huge boost and an inspiration to football across the country. And with the statements that he made when it comes to the infrastructure, this is something which plays a key role in the development of football in the Philippines on a community level as well.”
5-a-side Football Pitches
One of Football for Humanity’s main thrusts in contributing to community development lies in the creation of football fields or pitches for small-sided variant of the beautiful game, particularly five-a-side.
At its very essence, the driver of such infrastructure development initiatives emanate from the belief that sport and play is a fundamental right for every child. The creation of such specific football pitch facilities enable play-based learning environments for children to have a shot at fulfilling their potentials in the sport.
“For now, we (lack) infrastructure. We’ve gone around the country for the past four or five years on our football advocacy and that’s one glaring (deficiency). That’s why when we formed our strategy, we were very clear: Football infrastructure should be promoted (and) built,” Belle Tiongco shared.
After being involved in six completed projects, three in Bicol and three in Mindanao, in partnership with local government units (LGU) FFH has been building simple, cost-effective concrete pitches for small-sided football.
The facility being built do not feature touchlines, making children enjoy free-flowing, fast-paced games that cultivate individual skills that will help them set up the innate qualities that would serve as their foundation towards the next level of their development. Furthermore, it is considered the most popular format in England where millions of young people play on a weekly basis.
Another important aspect in the building of these facilities is that they are made exclusively for football and, to a certain extent, futsal as well deviating from the more applied norm of sharing facilities with other sports like basketball and volleyball courts as emphasised by Belle Tiongco.
“In our actual experience, (sharing spaces with other sports) because once kids get (more immersed) to football then there’s going to be that clash (with practitioners of other sports) in terms of who will play (in the facility).
“You don’t want one sport to suffer because you are promoting another.”
Going back to the statements made by FIFA President Gianni Infantino on the infrastructure development and the recent urging of Filipino worldwide boxing icon and senator Manny Pacquiao (whom President Infantino paid a visit to) on the need to focus on sports disciplines where Filipinos can excel and win, gives encouragement in terms of the direction that FFH’s initiatives are taking as Chris Thomas further intimated.
“I think the comments that were made by the president of FIFA, they just affirm what we’ve been doing since 2016 and what we are striving to do, not just from a community level, but on a national level as well.
“Especially with the likes of (Congresswoman) Pia Cayetano (whom President Infantino also met, being an advocate of women’s sports) and (Senator) Manny Pacquiao talking about legislation and policies – which are really important – they are part and parcel of the growth of the sport by having the right policies and legislations in place so that it opens the doors for government’s support whether through financial or infrastructure.
“Things look like they’re coming together in harmony with the PFF, FIFA, and the legislators, and with the current projects that are on the ground particularly with what we at FFH are doing, everything seems to be matching together.”
Football for Humanity Foundation may be currently focusing their immediate future efforts on infrastructure and community development initiatives, but they are also in the midst of other activities related to football.
At the moment, FFH, in partnership with Dubai World Expo 2020 and One World Play Project, are still in the midst of spreading awareness and hope through football in the country by distributing specially made balls that are virtually indestructible to far flung and conflict-torn areas.
Also, in-line is the Vision Beyond Borders project which is a coaching course to be provided by National Youth Association of Sweden and UEFA B licensed English FA tutor Owen Southgate which will begin early November in Vermosa Cavite.
Vision Beyond Borders will be held in multiple locations around the country beginning in Luzon, followed by the Visayas, which will then conclude in Davao in Mindanao.
More than just football
Football for Humanity’s advocacy does not focus on the sport of football as an end to their means though. FFH aims to provide a holistic approach in community development through the “Play for Goals” program by partnering with other not-for-profit groups such as Library Renewal Partnership and Waves for Water which builds libraries and provides clean water facilities respectively.
FFH’s latest project in Davao actually has been the product of the collaboration with their aforementioned partners along with the help of the LGU and is the template that the foundation really is striving for in terms of helping the community.
“Football for Humanity is not just about the infrastructure, and the promotion and development of the sport. It’s about social development and community empowerment by taking that holistic approach in a sustainable way.
“We’re also tackling pressing issues in society whether it be drugs, crimes gang recruitments even violent extremism. It’s another way for us to use football to prevent these type of things from happening… even health issues.
“Football becomes that platform and tool to direct the community’s youth to a more successful future,” shared Chris Thomas.
Loyola Football Club, particularly its Youth Academy, continues to push forth with their progression in the competitive front as it sets to join in the Philam 7s Football League Youth.
Focused mainly in the 9-a-side and 11-a-side competitions, the youth teams of Loyola FC Youth Academy are currently preparing for the rigors and demands of the 7-a-side format as evidenced by an early evening training session before the presser that was held in Libis last October 11, 2019.
Coach Roxy Dorlas, former national team player with 10 caps and who is currently spearheading the club’s youth programs, has been overseeing the required fine tunings that his participating teams need ahead of their return to competing in the format of the league that former Azkals Anton Del Rosario founded.
“[The style of play is going to be] a lot quicker, there’s going to be as lot of [off-the-ball] movement, we should move the ball a lot quicker [and exhibit] quicker decision-making.”
Loyola’s participation in the 7’s Football League Youth will be on multiple fronts as they will field four teams in different categories, U9, U11, U13, and U15. Each division will have eight participating clubs or teams with the whole campaign set to unfold in five Sundays beginning on October 13, 2019.
All matches in the 7’s Football League Youth will be held in McKinley Hill Stadium.
Loyola FC Youth are also approaching the final leg of their on-going Provincial Tour, currently one of the biggest initiatives they pulled off, this 2019. With stops at Los Banos, Laguna and Lingayen, Pangasinan already completed within the past two-months, Loyola is now gearing up for its next location, Baguio.
Coach Roxy Dorlas has been leading the charge in this project with the mission of helping spread grassroots youth football in the country, focusing in Luzon.
“We really try to help out the provincial teams for them to get more exposure at the competitive level. We know there is a lot of talent in the Philippines (particularly) in the provinces, but they don’t have the luxury (of footballing resources) like we have here in Manila (such as the number of) games… Through Loyola FC, we try to help them get these competitive games”, Coach Roxy shared.
The Baguio leg of the tour, as in the other previous destinations, will comprise of three main activities: football friendly matches with the local clubs, and a series of training sessions with the possibility of trials for aspiring young footballers for talent identification and possibly the chance in joining the club’s youth ranks.
Another thing that caught Coach Roxy Dorlas and the rest of Loyola’s attention with regards to the the players in the provinces is the passion and commitment to playing the sport.
“I think the passion (is greater when it comes to players from the provinces) compared to the ones here in Manila. I know that here in Manila, once players get to a certain level, they want to focus already in their studies. But in the provinces, you can tell that if the opportunity is there for them to really represent the country, they’ll really continue and try to get to the highest level,” added the mentor who also coaches the Philippine U16 team.
The two-day Baguio leg is set to unfold from November 30 to December 1, 2019 with plans for more destinations come 2020.
WHEN WILL LOYOLA’S SENIOR SQUAD RETURN TO COMPETING?
Finally, the big question that has been hanging for quite some time from both club faithfuls and general Philippine football fans has been asked: When will Loyola be seen back to competing even in the 7s at the earliest?
Although, non-committal, Coach Roxy provided an air of optimism that it may eventually happen soon enough but not in the immediate future.
“As soon as we can form a team, I would definitely entertain (competing in the senior 7’s Football League).
“(But) I think for now, it’s very challenging… because or high school players who are in the U17s and U19s are starting to focus already with their respective school teams.
“Hopefully (we can field a senior squad) by next year. But I think our (more realistic) target is within the next two years.”
Football has yet to shed its image of being a rich kid’s sport in the country, but Allianz Philippines and Sugod Malaya are showing that “the most beautiful sport in the world” is best played in an equal playing field. It doesn’t matter what your background or social standing is, as long as you are committed and dedicated to playing the game.
“Globally, Allianz is known to be a staunch supporter of football, and we want to promote that same passion here in the Philippines. When Sugod Malaya came to us for help, we immediately saw that they are an organization that represents our goals and ideals for the sport—that it’s not just a game to be played by a few, but by all,” said Gae Martinez, Chief Marketing Officer of Allianz Philippines.
Established six years ago, Sugod Malaya is a nonprofit football club that has close to 300 active members today—from the well-to-do to the poorest of the poor.
“When we started, our dream was to establish a club that is really free, regardless of whatever the player’s background is,” said Mark Duane Angos, Secretary General and one of the founders of Sugod Malaya.
He acknowledged that football in the Philippines suffered the reputation of being a game that is only played in gated communities and Sugod Malaya seeks to change that.
“We were forming a team back then and realized that it lacked diversity. At that time, I was doing a community outreach program for San Beda and got in touch with folks in Tondo,” Angos said.
The club eventually got four kids from the area to play with their team in Bacolod which, along with Iloilo, are considered the “Meccas” of football.
“When they played in Bacolod, they really played well together,” Angos shared.
From the 11 kids they had back then, the club has grown significantly. More than half of its members come from impoverished backgrounds, with 30-40 percent coming from the poorest of the poor.
“At first, we were only relying on the generous donations of our club’s parents until we wanted to expand and solidify the program. In the end, it became more than just a football club; it also became a tool for community development. It is now a club that provides an opportunity for kids from all backgrounds to play and, at the same time, have their talent seen and discovered by the global community,” Angos said.
While they consider their games in Iloilo and Bacolod to be memorable ones, nothing could beat their excitement in playing for international leagues. Sugod Malaya has played in the Borneo Cup in Malaysia and the Singa Cup in Singapore, and has likewise done well in their stints in other Asian countries.
Most recently, Sugod Malaya experienced how it is to play European football when they played in Barcelona, Spain. They played in the Mediterranean Cup and competed against Barcelona FC’s famed La Masia squad, the youth team that produced global football megastars Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta.
Angos said they almost gave up the idea of joining while they were in their planning stage.
“We knew, from the perspective of cost, that Barcelona would be too much even though its organizers were nice enough to give us partial subsidy. At some point, we thought of backing out because we felt that participating in one tournament might affect our entire program—we have a team playing in Europe and getting that experience, but then the other scholars would be suffering because we’d run out of funds and resources. So when Allianz and like-minded individuals came in, we saw the light at the end of the tunnel,” he revealed, adding that they knew of Allianz’ dedication to football.
“When we heard that they were willing to help us, we were excited. We are very thankful and, at the same time, excited to see that we have represented Allianz well,” he pointed out.
Even though the much stronger Barcelona team defeated Sugod Malaya, the kids remain determined.
“You can see that it (playing against Barcelona) reinforced their determination,” Angos said.
In playing in Barcelona, the kids realized how different football is being played in Europe.
“In the Philippines, they would cheer for you when you make a goal. In Spain and the rest of Europe, the crowd will clap and appreciate your good pass, even if you don’t score, and when you make a good save. They can appreciate the strengths of the whole team,” Angos shared.
He added that because of Allianz’ support in getting the kids to play in Spain, many other opportunities for the club came up. They were invited to play in Colombia (a team that they won over during the friendly competition), Ireland, and Portugal, among others.
“The Colombian coach said that our play is unpolished, which is not a bad thing because it makes it unpredictable and exciting,” Angos said, adding that the other clubs have compared their style to that of Manny Pacquiao’s.
In the end, what Mark and the rest of Sugod Malaya wants to achieve for the sport in the country, is to make Filipinos realize that “Football is a sport for the Filipinos.”