FOR the first time in many years, a national football tournament will kick off next month.
A source from the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) told The Manila Times that the competitions, called the PFF-Smart National Clubs Championships, will be held in various regions and provinces in Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and in Metro Manila, with the two teams from each of those areas advancing to the national finals.
Lawyer Roland Tulay, president of the National Capital Region Football Association, for his part, said that the competition in Metro Manila would be one of the most interesting since it pits teams that have imports from as far as Africa.
The national finals will be held from June 6 to 25 in Manila with the football federation hosting the games.
Tulay said that it was during competitions like the PFF-Smart National Clubs Championships that new talents were discovered, especially now that the Philippine football team “Azkals” were gaining multitudes of fans nationwide.
“This is where you discover new talents. It is the football clubs that re the foundation for the development of the sport. Good examples are Aly Borromeo, [Emil] “Chieffy” Caligdong and Anton del Rosario of the Azkals,” he said.
It was during March that the provincial qualifying rounds were conducted by each member association of the federation at the local level.
The group stage eliminations will run from April 1 to 16. For Luzon,
football associations representing Baguio City, Laguna, Quezon province, Rizal, Camarines Norte, Naga City-Camarines Sur, Legazpi City-Albay, Masbate and Oriental Mindoro will conduct the competitions at the provincial level.
In Mindanao, football associations representing
Butuan-Agusan del Sur, Bukidnon, Iligan-Lanao del Norte, Cagayan de Oro-Misamis Oriental, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Compostela Valley, Davao and Davao del Norte, Maguindanao-Cotabato City, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat. Misamis Occidental-Ozamiz, Zamboanga, Zamboanga del Norte-Dipolog and Zamboanga del Sur-Pagadian will conduct the competitions.
In the Visayas, the football associations for Cebu, Iloilo, Leyte, Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental will conduct the competitions.
In Metro Manila, there will be at least 10 clubs competing.
Tulay said that the members of the Azkals could go back to their respective teams, which would compete in the tournament. He did not elaborate.
He added that with the Azkals generating fervor toward football, the stakeholders in the sport could take the development of football one step further with the establishment of academies for the sport.