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Naga simmers with Football Fever

Words | Shiena M. Barrameda
Photographs | Marion Briz, Randy Dagooc, Ignatius Football Group and ADNU-USI Football team

Kids will learn the values of discipline, respect and patience. It will teach them how to be competent and confident. It will make them into team players.

THE PHILIPPINES, a basketball-crazy country for decades, is now starting to fall in love with another sport that has been around for quite some time, but has enjoyed very little patronage during the past years.

Ferdinand Tuy, instructor and coach of the Ateneo de Naga University-based Ignatius Football Group, sees the rise of the Azkals’ popularity in international soccer football tournaments as a chance to “push their greatest passion further into the limelight, into the attention of more youth and sports enthusiasts here in Naga City.”

“This is our chance,” Tuy added. “We must make the most of this football craze to promote our sport.”

Tuy, who has been playing football since his elementary years, says that Bicolanos, particularly Nagueños, have started showing interest in soccer football. According to Tuy, the sport has been around in Naga City and Camarines Sur since the 1980s, starting with a few enthusiasts and players from Ateneo de Naga University (AdNU), Universidad de Sta. Isabel, the Holy Minor and Major Seminaries and other schools within the province.

From then until now, teams from said institutions make use of football fields in the Holy Minor Seminary near the Metropolitan Cathedral, the AdNU campus and the Metro Naga Sports Complex.

Tuy said that schools subsidize facilities used in the games and even clothes that players use except protectors, socks and shoes.

“Kids these days are very lucky to have assistance from their schools and the government. Back when my best friend and I were kids at the Naga Parochial School, we played barefoot in vacant lots or football fields. Sometimes, since we only have one pair of shin protectors, we split the pair between the two of us. It was just lucky that I use my left foot while he uses his right.”

Right now, Tuy and his teammates in the AdNU alumni football team are busy organizing the Naga City United Football Club. The new organization will then be registered under the umbrella organization the Philippine Football Association.

In line with the LGU’s goal of transforming Naga City into a sports hub in Southern Luzon, football enthusiasts are gathering their efforts for a major introduction of the sport into the Sports Summit being prepared by the administration of Mayor John G. Bongat, which is the culminating activity that spinned off from the Sports Coordinators Summit held at SM City Naga Activity Center last February 28.

The said meeting paved the way for the creation of the Naga City Physical Fitness and Sports Council, which will be headed by no less than the Mayor himself. The next summit is scheduled for April or May, says Naga City Sports Coordinator Francis Barja.

Said effort by the LGU is geared towards maximizing use of the underutilized Metro Naga Sports Complex. Aside from football, sports and games like chess, boxing, basketball and volleyball are already listed on the program slated towards strengthening the campaign against prevailing crime and drug abuse problems that are causes of constant concern for city officials and parents.

Tuy believes that football will influence youth away from these negative activities by teaching them important values that they could use in daily life.

“Kids will learn the values of discipline, respect and patience. It will teach them how to be competent and confident. It will make them into team players,” Tuy added.

Mayor Bongat, for his side, has assured the City Government’s full support for football as well as other sports, saying that Naga has the talents, the facilities, and the energy to sustain a productive sports program. Starting last year, the Mayor has allowed the Naga- Camarines Sur Football Association headed by Atty. Anlu Carpio to use the football field of the Metro Naga Sports Complex to develop the talents of kids and youngsters in the sport.

March of this year, the same complex also hosted the first ever Philippine Football Federation-sanctioned under-19 Southeast Luzon Eliminations, the under-23 Suzuki Cup, and the open category, where Fr. Pablo Carpio’s (Atty. Anlu’s younger brother) Naga-Camarines Sur teams emerged as champions in the under-19, second in the open, and 3rd in the under-23.

The under-19 All-Luzon Finals slated on April 26-29 will likely be held in Naga according to the Carpio brothers.