LONDON - While the Azkals are receiving recognition for their heroics in The Suzuki Cup, thousands of miles away, players from another Pinoy football team are quietly going about their business as they push for promotion without coaches.
Philippine Football Club (PFC), formerly known as Philippine United Football Club (PUFC), exceeded expectations and convincingly won promotion from Division Two in their maiden campaign last season. The UK's first Pinoy football team looked to build on their success in Division One of the West Hertfordshire League.
Although PFC is currently ranked fourth, indicating a steady progression, the team has had to overcome several set-backs. The unexpected happened. Within the space of three months, three keys figures left the club.
In August, just before the start of the season, Leo Jensen, founder of PUFC, walked away due to personal reasons. He started another team closer to his home in the city of Manchester and in doing so took the original name and emblem of the club with him. Six league games into the season, Head Coach Norman Parkin and Assistant Coach Steve Conroy then followed suit.
The 30th of October proved to be the final straw for the coaches. PFC was due to host league rivals Harpenden Rovers A at their home ground in Watford, just outside of London. Parkin arranged a team meeting to take place before the game to discuss several issues, however several squad members arrived late, which infuriated him.
The coaches departed before kick-off, heading north, home towards Sheffield, 128 miles (206 kilometers) away. The players were shocked and put in a disjointed first half performance, going in at the break trailing two nil. PFC's players managed to regroup during half-time and came out with all guns blazing for the second half. The match ended 4-2 to PFC.
The following day, Parkin sent an email to the team citing tardiness, the lack of solid financial backing and the high number of injured players as reasons for leaving. He even joked he was going to “reserve a private ward at Watford Hospital...lol” for the team.
Parkin and Conroy posted PFC's paperwork to the players shortly afterwards and have not been involved with the club since. Despite what happened, Parkin did say he wished the team well for the future and will continue to support the club by updating the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) in Manila of their progress.
At the time, the players understood why the coaches were angry, but they still felt the decision was rash and slightly unclear.
In the absence of coaches and a secretary, three players have taken the reins and are currently running the club: Vice Captain Renee Banao, Goalkeeper Keith Townsend and Clubman Jesse Arroyo.
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