Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The UFL on AKTV cements football’s coming of age in the Philippines

The UFL on AKTV cements football’s coming of age in the Philippines
story and photo by rick olivares

Football finally cemented its arrival as a top sport in the Philippines when executives from AKTV/TV5 and the United Football League affixed their signatures on a contract will bring not one, but two live matches of the country’s premier football league every Saturday to television sets throughout the country.

In a historic contract signing held last Friday, September 16, 2011 at the E bar of EDSA Shangri-La Hotel in Mandaluyong City, was witness by about a hundred people from the football community, the new television carrier as well as the media. A moment that was Philippine Football Federation President Mariano V. Araneta Jr. described as “a long time coming and it can only mean well for football.”

Football Alliance (the governing body of the UFL) President Randy Roxas underscored the efforts of previous generations who toiled for the sport and for the country but were never given the proper credit or support. “This is a time for all of us to come together and support football because it is a sport where we can truly excel,” said Roxas who himself was once a player.

Alvin Ocampo, the son of the late Olympian as well as Mr. Football Ed Ocampo, noted that the experience of training and competing abroad by players such as Emelio “Chieffy” Caligdong and Aly Borromeo have really been noticeable when they have competed for their respective clubs in the UFL. “When you add the foreign players to go with our national players, it really raises the quality of the game,” pointed out Ocampo who is now assisting former national coach Nonoy Fegidero with Pachanga FC along with Marjo Allado. “I myself a trying to get into shape and play one more season just to personally experience for myself the quality of the game. Ocampo played for the national team under Japanese coach Masataka Imai and Aris Caslib.

The UFL with its two divisions and two tournament formats in a year (the Cup and the League title) received a massive shot of interest and popularity in the wake of the success of the Philippine Men’s Football National Team’s campaign in the 2010 Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup.

“While the UFL gives Filipino football players and clubs all over the country is a chance to continue playing the sport they love even after their college playing years,” said Football Alliance Chairman Santi Araneta. “the partnership with AKTV/TV5 gives all of us a platform to showcase football and these talents to a wider audience. And who knows – it might lead to a stint in the national team for many of the players.”

As part of its commitment to the league and football, AKTV/TV5 Station Manager Vitto Lazatin announced that high definition cameras and equipment will be used in the coverage. Said Lazatin: “We want to present the Filipino football player and the sport in all its glory this is the best way to do it.”

The season kicks off this coming October 8 with the UFL Cup where 28 teams including 13 guest squads who will compete for five slots in the UFL’s Division II.

The press conference also featured the draw where clubs were seeded into a group stage for the UFL Cup.

Group A: Nomads FC, Baguio FC, Union Internacional FC, Lions FC
Group B: Loyola Meralco Sparks FC, Internacionale FC, Agila FC, Team Socceroo FC
Group C: Global FC, Pachanga FC, Stallions FC, Cebu Queen City FC
Group D: Kaya-Cignal FC,  ABC Stars FC, Schwarz, Diliman Victory Liner FC
Group E: Philippine Air Force FC, Philippine Navy FC, Manila All-Japan FC, Laos FC
Group F: Green Archers United FC, Dolphins United FC, Pasargad FC, Forza FC
Group G: Philippine Army FC, Manhur FC, Sunken Garden United FC, and Garuda FC PH

Tournament Committee Member Chris Hagedorn labeled Group C as the “Group of Death” as it features three teams – Global FC, Pachanga, and Stallions FC – that made the semifinals of the recently concluded Smart Club Championships.

“It’s going to be interesting because you have two tough Metro Manila teams and two very good provincial teams (Stallions FC which is an Iloilo-based eleven and Queen City FC which is from Cebu) who are rivals themselves. That’s bears a lot of watching.” said Hagedorn.

In the UFL Cup, the top two teams of each group as well as the top two third place teams advance to the Round of 16. The survivors then are pitted in the quarterfinals and semifinals until the last two remaining teams battle it out for the Cup. The third and fourth place teams will also figure in a one-game match for the Plate Winner.

The new UFL season will see many players from the Azkals suit up for different clubs.

National team mainstays Phil and James Younghusband will be playing for Loyola Sparks FC along with another set of brothers who are national teammates in Mark and Matthew Hartmann.

The Azkals’ Spanish striker Angel Guirado and Fil-Iranian Misagh Bahadoran will be donning the colors of Global FC.

Pachanga FC will have at least six players from Ceres-Bacolod that won the inaugural PFF Suzuki Cup U-23 National Championship according to Ocampo. “We recently underwent a rebuilding process and we added some exciting newcomers like midfielder Aldrin Dolino and striker Joshua Beloya.”

Kaya FC will have Aly Borromeo, Anton del Rosario, Yannick Tuason and new additions in Jason Sabio and Nate Burkey.

Philippine Air Force FC has scoring threats Chieffy Caligdong and Ian Araneta in harness while rival Philippine Army FC features Roel Gener and Nestor Margarse.

The UFL Cup will also have an interesting mix of Ghanaian, Sudanese, British, Malaysian, Indonesian, Spanish, and Dutch players.

With the Kaholeros' JP Maunes and Ebong Joson in a progression of emotions about the historic signing.


Here's another piece on the historic TV5/UFL signing that I wrote this time for 

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