MANILA, Philippines – Over 30 football clubs from all over the country will compete in the PFF-Smart National Club Championship, which kicks off on Friday in Mindanao.
The top teams from the cluster rounds will advance to the group qualifiers, where they will battle it out with five seeded teams, including two-time defending champion Ceres La Salle Football Club from Negros Occidental.
Winners of the group qualifiers will then move on to the national stage in October, where they will compete against the top teams of the United Football League – Kaya, Meralco, and Global.
The final matches will be held at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.
At stake in the tournament is the top prize of P200,000.
Action in the West Mindanao and North Mindanao clusters start on August 22, while the Central Mindanao and East Mindanao clusters begin competing on August 29. There are four teams in the West, North, and Central Mindanao clusters, and three in the East cluster.
Two teams – Cavite FA and Rizal FA – will dispute the North Luzon cluster on August 23, and three teams will compete in the Central Luzon cluster starting August 27. Three teams will also see action in the South Luzon cluster starting August 29.
All NCR clubs will compete in the NCR cluster starting August 22.
"We are training the spotlight on the enormous potential of our local football players," said Cyril Dofitas, head of the PFF's tournaments department, in a statement.
"The development of grassroots football in the Philippines is always a top priority for the PFF, for this is where we discover more talents that can represent the country on the world stage," he added.
Dofitas also said the tournament will not only highlight local tournament but also "raises the standards of local football associations."