Pinoy squad survives relegation in UK league

By Edward Lao, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at May 30 2012 07:41 PM | Updated as of May 31 2012 07:45 PM

LONDON – Superior goal difference paid off in the end after the United Kingdom’s first amateur Filipino football team, the Philippine Football Club (PFC), narrowly survived relegation from Division One of the West Hertfordshire League.

The British Pinoys recently ended their 2011-2012 campaign in 10th place – just one spot above the drop zone.

After 22 matches, they picked up 20 points, recording five wins, five draws and 12 losses.

Glenn Sports shared an identical record, but finished below PFC in 11th place because of a 15-goal deficit. As a result, they were relegated to Division Two.

PFC’s players were relieved to avoid dropping out of the 12-team league.

“I think it’s a great achievement considering our circumstances. We’re a good enough team and shouldn’t have been in that position in the first place,” said full back Cliff Gay-ya.

“It was important for us to stay in this tier of the league for team morale,” he added.

In their fourth from final game of the season, PFC defeated Glenn Sports 2-0, courtesy of late goals from forwards Jason Arroyo and Raymond Tordecilla.

That victory released some pressure, but club secretary Jesse Arroyo admitted he was still concerned.

“Being in the relegation places in the last couple of matches was worrying. The team was not used to being in such a position. With this lack of familiarity, I would say we were quite naive,” commented Arroyo.

“We have learnt many lessons. We will use this as fuel for the following season,” he added.

Their poor showing this season has been attributed to a number of factors, including injuries, lack of team depth, not enough training and the changing of coaching personnel.

Most of PFC’s players also made a mid-season trip to the Philippines to play four friendlies in Bacolod. They feel the experience was valuable, but recognize that it may have compromised their league position.

Search for new blood

PFC found themselves undermanned on many occasions this season. With that it mind, the club is now looking to strengthen the squad before the start of the 2012-2013 campaign in September.

Part of that recruitment drive will happen during the upcoming Philippine Independence Day world Cup (PIDWC) on June 16 in Brentford, London.

The PIDWC is an annual 5-a-side football tournament originally set up by charity Philippine Generations (PG).

PFC is working in partnership with PG for this year’s competition, with proceeds from the event going towards PFC for things like new team kits.

Bouncing back

Despite enduring their worst ever season since the club’s inauguration in 2009, PFC’s players are optimistic about bouncing back next season.

“We have so much talent in our team, and if we push hard, we could be challenging for honors. The potential is there,” Gay-ya said.

“On our day we can mix it with the best of them. If we continue enjoying the way we play, good things will come,” he added.

Arroyo is involved in the team selection process on match days, and he called on the players to give more to the cause.

“It would be nice to have that luxurious dilemma of having to choose from at least 14 or more players. In order to win against the best, it is not just 11 players that are required, but a full 14 players as fatigue in the latter stages of the match can prove costly,” Arroyo said.

“This commitment and determination will be the basis of PFC’s success,” he added.

The club is also looking forward to the retunr of several individuals who were absent due to study or work commitments. One ofthe players, Sean Vadhat, will be available next season after serving under the British Army in Afghanistan.

PFC will commence training for the 2012-2013 season in July. This will be followed by friendly matches in August.

The 2011-2012 season was PFC’s third in the West Herts league. In their first season together, the British Pinoys won promotion from Division Two into Division One. The following year, they built on their success and narrowly missed out on promotion to the Premier Division.

PFC, originally Philippine United Football Club, was formed during the reign of the former Philippine Football Federation president Jose Mari Martinez. It was created with the purpose of providing Pinoys based in the United Kingdom a venue to compete in an amateur league.

Its long-term goal was to scout potential talent that could be considered for local teams in the Philippines, or even the national team.