There’s a determined group of young professionals out to make a push for Philippine football and it appears they’re on track to give the world’s most popular sport a shot in the arm.
The consensus is Philippine football is dying because of lack of vision and direction from the Philippine Football Federation, the POC-accredited NSA governing the sport. While football is widely played at the school level, crack players aren’t enticed to continue playing beyond graduation because there isn’t a strong “premier” league to participate in.
Now comes the so-called Football Alliance which is affiliated with the United Football Cup Association (UFCA), a regular member of the NCR Football Association that is the PFF’s conscience bloc. The UFCA is behind the United Football League (UFL) which has nine teams and is on its eighth season. The Alliance hopes to take the UFL to the next level by organizing a full season’s schedule starting with The Cup from October to December, moving to The League from January to May and ending with The Invitationals in June.
The Alliance will name its league La Copa Filipina with four cornerstones – a corporate series for commercial support, a youth summer camp, a serious presence in media and a dedicated promotion of merchandise.
The Alliance is led by what I call the Magnificent 7 – a team of young executives who share a passion for football. The group is made up of LBC CEO Santi Araneta, 2GO SVP and COO Mike Camahort, Magma Inflatables president and CEO Antonio Longa, Mutual Fund Management Corp. president Philip Hagedorn, ATR Kim Eng chairman and president Lorenzo Roxas, Orient Freight president and CEO Monchu Garcia and LBC marketing director Javy Mantecon.
Together, the Magnificent 7 is looking to restore football’s once lofty standing as a significant sport in the country.
Mantecon said the program is doable. For the first tournament, 16 clubs will be tapped to play 38 matches. The teams are Manila Nomads, Union Football Club, Loyola Football Club, Air Force, Navy, Army, Alabang Grins Football Club, Laos Football Club, MPL Football Club, Kaya Football Club, Mama Africa Football Club, Sunken Garden Football Club, Baguio Football Club, Manila All-Japan Football Club, Lions Football Club and Inter-Manila Football Club.
The roster of members makes for a multi-national character and over 400 players will be enlisted. Venues will be the Rizal Memorial, Ateneo football field, Nomads and the Philippine Army field in Taguig.