FEU dreams of taking sports program to new heights

By Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Feb 18 2014 03:59 PM | Updated as of Feb 19 2014 04:57 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The Far Eastern University (FEU) is hoping to develop its sports program even further with the help of a new sports center that it inaugurated just last week.

Anton Montinola, FEU’s representative to the UAAP Board, said the goals of the school’s athletic program include developing homegrown championship teams, as well as athletes for international competitions.

“We want to develop international-caliber athletes, as we are now starting to do in football,” said Montinola. “The day will come when football players from FEU will play, for example, in Korea. ‘Di ba, they are already playing for the Azkals? Some are in the UFL (United Football League), I understand.”

“But beyond the Azkals… After the UFL, Korea. So imagine, from Compostela Valley or Visayas, Mindanao, coming over at 15 years old with nothing, learning, and then ending up in Korea as a professional,” he added.

“Again, we will be very proud of that.”

Some of FEU’s track-and-field athletes won gold medals in the 2013 Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar, and Tamaraws forward Mac Belo also won gold as a member of the Sinag Pilipinas basketball team.

But developing homegrown championship teams is clearly a goal that is close to Montinola’s heart.

“We don’t believe in pirating,” he said. “We believe in developing our own talent. We don’t have the money of the other big schools, so our only defense is to train our athletes.”

“We don’t bother anybody, we just mind our own business and we luckily are able to win our fair share of championships. Not every year, but you know, hopefully, enough,” he added.

In this regard, the FEU men’s football team has a chance to set a milestone for the school. They are competing in the finals of the UAAP championships against the University of the Philippines, and Montinola noted that nine members of the team were brought up from the juniors program.

“So that’s the template,” he said. “If we can do it in football, why can’t we do it in other sports? That’s the dream that we have.”

“The championship of this program is important to us, and hopefully we’ll make it. We’ve only lost once to UP, and hopefully, we don’t lose to them in the Finals. If we win the championship, it will prove that a homegrown program works,” he added.

Montinola said they hope for their sports program to be as good as that of San Beda College or University of Santo Tomas, which he called the “standard.”

“UST always wins the juniors general championship, and we hope to one day equal that. And then for basketball, San Beda has had a very successful program,” he said.

“We believe we can do that, finally, with this facility,” he added, referring to the state-of-the-art sports center.

FEU has also linked up with coaches including Jojo Lastimosa, Johnny Abarrientos and Celino Cruz, all of whom Montinola said can contribute a lot to their sports program.

“But you know, with a program like this, we’ll need even more (coaches),” he said. “As I said, this represents an evolution of the sports program of FEU. It’s a milestone.

“It will take us, hopefully, to the next level, and it will enable us to remain competitive in the long run – in all UAAP sports – by developing a truly homegrown program.”