LONDON – Two Pinoy groups recently combined forces to mark the 114th Philippine Independence Day celebrations with an annual football tournament in London.
Charity Philippine Generations (PG) and amateur football club - Philippine Football Club (PFC) hosted the third PIDWC (Philippine Independence Day World Cup) on June 23 at the Rocks Lane Multi-sports Centre in Chiswick.
The 5-a-side contest featured 25 teams with each consisting of at least one player Filipino player, as well as a team name inspired by an area in the Philippines. Among them were Real Madrikina, Cavite Warriors, Bagnen Sugar Caners, Pangasinan Dragons and Makati Marvels.
The teams were split into five groups, with the top three from each group progressing to the last 16. The best fourth placed team gained the final spot, which was decided on goal difference. The quarterfinals was followed by the semis and then the final.
Last year's champions the Bora Warriors made it two in a row after successfully defending their PIDWC crown. They beat the L.A.guna Galaxy 5-2 in the final.
Bora Warriors player Richie Caparros, 35, achieved a personal double by taking home the Top Scorer award with 15 goals in 6 games. He scored three hat-tricks, one of which came in the final, that in turn earned him the Best Player award.
En route to winning the PIDWC in 2011, the Bora Warriors only conceded one goal during the whole tournament.
Despite that, Caparros remained humble and anticipated a tough competition.
“When we go to a tournament we don't have high expectations. We don't underestimate anyone. I was watching the other teams and there were some good teams,” he said.
“We can't say we played everyone. We'd love to play everyone, then we can say we really were the best,” Caparros said.
He admits the luck of the tournament draw has an impact, but explained their victory was largely down to lots of practice, teamwork and experience.
“We don’t have a secret, basically, we played as a team. We’ve been playing together for around 10 years, so we know each other’s games, we play every week. It’s all about playing as a team,” Caparros said.
“I love playing with this team. I could play with my eyes closed and I'd know where these boys are,” he added.
The Bora Warriors will return for the next PIDWC, aiming to make it a three-peat.
This year’s event, sanctioned by the London FA (Football Association), was supported by Job Connections UK, which specializes in recruitment for those in the medical industry, and website Fil-Event.
Experienced referees officiated the matches. Among them was a Pinay, May Milton, who PG believes is the only Filipino FA registered referee in the UK.
PG and PFC collaboration
In previous outings, PG ran the PIDWC alone, but this year they decided to partner up with PFC for the running and organization of the competition.
PG Chair Adrian Williams explained it was done not only to unite the Filipino community through sport, but also to provide PFC the opportunity to scout talent and earn some funds for the club.
“PFC serve as the focal point for Philippine Football in the UK and this event is the perfect way for PFC to promote itself and identify players that could help them develop further,” Williams said.
Williams was also pleased about the increased number of teams that participated, which was nine more than last year.
“This year's competition was a success. It was over 50% bigger than in the previous two years and there was a lot of football on show. This is now firmly in the calendar and we hope to have a great tournament next year too,” he added.
Funds for PFC
Half of the proceeds from the tournament are going towards PFC for the purchase of things like new team kits and equipment.
PFC Secretary Jesse Arroyo felt the partnership with PG worked well and that it was a successful event. He explained what the additional funds mean to the club and its players.
“At the moment we don't have a sponsor for the team, which means we, the players have been digging into our own pockets to keep the club running,” Arroyo said.
“We'll definitely put the money to good use. There are several things that we need for the upcoming season and this will help,” he added.
Arroyo also revealed that there were few Pinoy players, who he had not seen before, that impressed at the PIDWC. He says they will be reviewed and possibly approached by the club for trials.
PFC is looking to bounce back following a disappointing 2011-2012 season, where they narrowly escaped relegation from Division One of the West Hertfordshire League, north of London.
The next West Herts League season kicks off in September.