Football: Strong relationships key, as ex Busmen transition to United City

Manolo Pedralvez

Posted at Jul 31 2020 12:56 PM

For those who know him closely, Patrick Ace Bright is not one to toot his own horn.

But ask almost anyone, especially past and present members of the Philippine Azkals, and the consensus is nearly unanimous -- the longtime national men’s football team coordinator is someone who is low key, efficient and, more often than not, gets the job done.

One example is the smooth transition of ownership and management of Ceres Negros FC to a group of foreign investors and will now carry the new name United City FC.

While Bright, who remains the club’s general manager, remains mum on how the transaction transpired, no doubt he had a direct hand in the successful deal.

He had made it known that retaining the services of distinguished midfielder and Azkals skipper Stephan Schröck was among his top priorities given the player’s stature and value to the squad.

So it was not surprising when Schröck announced on July 28 that he was signing with the new club, no mean feat considering he had other lucrative offers on the table.

Bright’s imprint was on that coup, guaranteeing that the team cornerstone would still be very much around, something that would have not been done without the bonds and friendships that he had forged with Schröck and, of course, the rest of the players.

Schröck’s signing had a domino effect on the former Busmen, with four more players – Ron Bayan, OJ Porteria, Jun Badelic and Sean Patrick Kane – renewing their contracts on Thursday with the renamed club to keep the 21-man squad intact.

Besides Schröck, among the past and present Azkals on the squad are goalkeeper Roland Muller, siblings Mike and Manny Ott, Porteria, Dennis Villanueva, Dylan de Brucker, and Junior Munoz, who are all on friendly terms and familiar with Bright’s management style. 

“It’s not all about the money if the players decide to stay,” Bright noted, adding that cultivating and nurturing friendships and relationships with the players and the rest of the club staff were also important. 

“I come from a conservative family, so nourishing close ties is important. This is the same family-oriented approach in dealing with the players and club staff since they are like younger brothers to me,” he added. “With this background, I was able to build friendships and relationships along the way.

“At the end of the day, it is not all about work it’s not all about the contracts, although they are important, but it goes beyond that.

“I try to deal with the players in different ways that they can understand and try to understand where they are coming from to resolve the conflicts, if ever, that may arise,” Bright added. “There might be some who are hard-headed but there are ways of treating them without being harsh.”

In the end, he said, “while we talk about figures, I can humbly say that willingness of the players to stay (with the club) is because they trust me.”

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