|Me, Kale Alvarez (who I used to partner with for the UAAP Men's Football Finals for Studio 23), Rudy Del Rosario, Chris Hagedorn, and Armand Del Rosario at the LBC Corporate offices during the presscon today. Let the good times roll.|
Kaya reunion match to trot out good vibes and who’s who in Philippine football
by rick olivares
Kaya was formed in 1996 out of a loose gathering of friends who happened to play football. There was a sprinkling of national and college players as well as friends of friends.
The starting eleven?
“It was the first eleven players who showed up,” laughed Rudy del Rosario, one of three founding fathers of the 16-year old football club.
Christopher Hagedorn, who first used to kick the ball around with Del Rosario and company when they trained at the old International School of Manila campus in Kalayaan Avenue, Makati, is now one of the club’s owners. He recalled that joining fees for tournaments would cost three thousand pesos. “Now it’s so much more than that in the UFL,” he laughed.
“During those crazy years, the only people who would be watching us play in Ateneo, Nomads, or ULTRA would be the girlfriends, wives, or children of the players,” recounted Rudy. “And the trees. And Rick Olivares.”
Back in those alternative 1990s, the late PFF General Secretary Chris Monfort would officially tell the team to wear matching socks but privately, he got a kick out of the red and green socks that the players used to wear.
The bright colors of the club evoked family, fun, and good times. Hagedorn would tell you that the club’s name is derived from the Filipino word that means “can do it” but Del Rosario would snicker and with a mischievous smile on his lips, tell grinning media men gathered round to listen to these grizzled football veterans to “listen to the lyrics of Bob Marley’s song ‘Kaya’”.
“We’re all wholesome here,” interjects Hagedorn as a form of mild protest. “Very family.”
On September 9, 2012, that family will get together in an incredible reunion of past, present and perhaps future Kaya players in an exhibition and pre-season match at the BGC Turf at 8pm. It’s not for charity. It’s a testament to the club’s longevity, staying power, and well, impassioned history.
“Now you’re going to make me work,” laughs Hagedorn when thinking about recruiting the old boys.
The news of the reunion match has spread like wildfire and elicited excitement not seen in a while. “Good vibes,” added Armand del Rosario who Hagedorn calls the oldest player current plying his trade in the UFL. Del Rosario protests, “there are guys in the military teams who are older than time.”
To recreate the original team would be quite a feat – there was Sherlock Cordova at goal, John Rey Bela-Ong, Bob Kovac, Gil Talavera, Lloyd Lim, Wek Wek Bronda, Jade Bejemino, Jing Jambre, Ogie Bautista, Marbon Gonzales, Frenchman Bruno Vergnes, Nichi Severino, -- as some now live abroad while Lim has passed away. But nevertheless the reunion has forced even team owner Phil Hagedorn to put on his goalkeeper’s gloves. “His presence will fill the goal,” laughed current team manager Ramon Araneta. “But if he cannot continue, Rely San Agustin will take his place. Rely’s in shape, right?”
For the reunion match, fans will get to see former players who have gone on to success in other clubs like Badz and Izzo El Habbib now with Global, Freddy Gonzalez and Alvin Ocampo who are with newly promoted Pachanga, and Tating Pasilan who is with Green Archers United to name a few. Aly Go, now with the Bacolod-based Builders FC will fly in for the match. Hopefully, current Air Force net minder Tats Mercado will show up as well.
“Now if we can get Kovac (who is now based in Thailand where he formed his own Kaya club), that will be perfect,” added Rudy Del Rosario.
The old Kaya teams (prior to being under the Football Alliance) were three-time UFL champions (2002, 2003, and 2009), four-time Alaska Cup titleholders, the first-ever Chris Monfort Cup champions, and the current Kia Cup winners.
“There’s quite a few more,” noted Hagedorn but those mentioned are the ones I am truly proud of.
The exhibition match will pit the current Kaya team with Nate Burkey, Prince Boley, Jonah Romero, Jason Sabio, Saba Garmaroudi, and new signing Fil-Am Anton Ugarte against the veteran squad. Current team head coach, Kale Alvarez, the fourth coach in the club’s history after Hans Smit, Juan Cutillas and Rudy Del Rosario, “will play a few minutes for the veterans.”
With the massive number of Kaya alumni expected to show up at the BGC Turf next Sunday who will start?
“Whoever shows up first,” laughed Rudy. “It is a Kaya tradition after all.”
Kick off for the Kaya veterans vs. Kaya FC is at 8pm rain or shine and barring any thunderstorms. Admission is free. BYOB.
There will be Kaya merchandise on sale at the BGC!
I am really excited about this match. It's a dream for me to be able to organize this along with some club players. What Rudy said is true. I would watch the old UFL, Ang Liga, and what have you leagues when I wasn't busy. I would usually go with the Loyola team to watch the games in Ateneo, Nomads, ULTRA, or San Beda. I saw guys like Rudy Del Rosario, Norman Fegidero Jr., Alvin Ocampo play and that is why when we were organizing the Clear Dream Match, I threw Rudy's name (with his permission) in the hat. When people talk about how football is popular today, they have no idea how these people blazed a trail for what there is today. This is my way of showing everyone the roots of a club like Kaya. That there's a history, a longevity, and definitely, an incredible story to this. Armand Del Rosario and Eddie Mallari are old friends dating the way to when we at Solar Sports used to cover the Azkals when no one would. To be able to organize this with these friends and with the incredible help and support by Santi & Ramon Araneta and Phil & Chris Hagedorn is amazing. Sunday!
Kaya says IF YOU LIKE THE CLUB GO LIKE THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE THAT HAS OVER 32,000 LIKES. And watch the reunion game and their UFL games!