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Football For Peace founder Gandeza proud of program’s success



The Philippines has seen its share of armed conflicts throughout history. To this day, there are war-torn areas being serviced by the Philippine Marine Corps in order to bring peace in the country. While guns and other firearms are the main weapons of soldiers from both sides of the conflict, there was another tool used by the Marines in winning battles – a football.

Marines are known for warfare, although there are times when they’re called to do things outside the call of duty. One man who did so is current Marine Corps Special Director Captain Caesar Ryan Gandeza.

A member of Philippine Military Class 2008, Capt. Gandeza has been in service for seven years and has undergone combat duties in Sulu, Zamboanga City, Misamis Oriental, and Tawi-Tawi before being assigned in Manila.

The Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya native had played football up to the regional level in his elementary days and continued playing in the PMA. He then put his love of the sport to good use in the most “accidental” of ways. Here is the story of the serendipitous Football For Peace program.

Dinala ko lang yung passion ko (sa Sulu). Before reporting to the cooperation area, nagdala ako ng football. Ginawa namin, nagtawag lang ako ng tropa tapos naglaro lang kami ng football. Habang naglalaro kami dumami ang mga batang gusto manood. Nanonood lang sila then after sometime, after ng morning calisthenics namin, naglaro kami ng football and then ang daming bata. Pag-alis namin, ‘sir pwede bang maglaro?’, sabi ng mga bata,” Capt. Gandeza reminisced.

It was from that simple pickup game of football when Football For Peace started. Capt. Gandeza shared that the kids had played for such a long time that it was he and his fellow soldiers who had to take their ball in the evening. After some time, he suggested that they put up a football clinic, which became so successful that their lack of footballs became a problem.

Capt. Gandeza and his fellow soldiers instilled discipline, respect, and even hygiene lessons in the kids they trained. The effects were so great that even the older members of the community followed the children’s lead by putting a stop to gambling operations and keeping their areas clean.

However, all good things inevitable end and in this case, it was an emotional farewell. Capt. Gandeza shared, “Nung umalis kami sa lugar na yun, normally parang wala lang eh pero hindi eh. Nung umalis kami sa lugar na yun, yung mga bata grabe yung ano… kulang na lang ibalik ang mga sundalo sa kampo. Yung mga nanay, ayaw naming makita mong umiyak kaya ayaw namin lumabas pero hagulgul sila dun nung umalis kami sa community.

From then on, the simple football clinic grew. Capt Gandeza said, “Nireplicate namin yan throughout the companies na nag-iimplement ng clinic and that’s how it spread, from one company to other companies, to a battalion, to a brigade, to the whole, to the Marine Corps and to the conflict areas handled by the Philippine Marine Corps.

The challenge that the Marines faced was mainly the lack of equipment. Capt. Gandeza stated they had practically begged sponsors to help them.  He added, “Dito na pumapasok si sir Rookie (Nagtalag). Siya yung nag-link sa amin sa lahat ng corporations sa Manila na kumuha ng napakalaking suporta para sa bola, uniform, sapatos, and the rest, media mileage, lahat. Sila nag-connect sa amin and we shared our stories sa lahat.

As stated earlier, it’s been roughly five years since the Football For Peace program was initiated. Capt. Gandeza reflected that the program has been very beneficial for the Marines themselves. The program allowed the Marines to show the communities that they sincerely cared for them. Rather than just simple medical missions, Football For Peace allowed the Marines themselves to become members of the community.

Yung community na mismo ang lumalapit sa amin na nag-express ng kanilang pasasalamat at the same time kung ano kailangan nila sa community. Yung mga concerns nila linalapit nila sa amin. Hindi naman sa natutugunan namin pero little by little nasasatisfy namin. Natuto kami makisama sa kanila genuinely rather than pakitang tao lang”, explained Capt. Gandeza.

Probably the biggest activity Football For Peace has had this year was when they brought together more than 200 kids from different parts of Metro Manila to play football. Aside from playing football, the kids were brought to different venues to further enrich their knowledge. Capt. Gandeza was overwhelmed with the effects of the trip on the kids.

Not unlike before na… alam mo yung tatanungin mo yung bata sa Manila, ‘anong gusto mong maging paglaki mo?’, and they would readily give you an answer pero doon hindi nila alam. Pero right now marunong na silang ‘gusto ko maging doktor’, ‘gusto ko maging nurse’, reporter, journalist.

“We gave them back their capability to dream unlike before na yung mind setting nila ay within the confines of a small island in Sulu. Right now lumalaki na yung pangarap nila and it faces a new challenge for us – yung education side ng Football For Peace.

As with all programs like Football For Peace, growth is the only means for survival. Capt. Gandeza shared they hope to put up a foundation which will handle all Football For Peace-related activities and also to institutionalize the program in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. In addition to that, he stated that they also wanted to create a football school just like the PMA, which would produce professional footballers.

While peace in the Philippines may seem to be a distant dream, programs like Football For Peace started by Capt. Gandeza that brings all Filipinos one step closer to fulfilling that dream.


Lorenzo's a frustrated author who knows a thing or two about Football and Basketball. Went all green from Ortigas to Taft. Supports Liverpool FC, FC Bayern Munich and the Alaska Aces

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Ilocos United takes leave from PFL



Another one bites the dust

After months of speculation, Ilocos United has formally announced their absence from the Philippines Football League for the 2018 season.

A statement signed by Ilocos Chief Executive Officer Tony Lazaro and posted on the club’s Facebook page broke the big news.

“Unfortunately, after months of negotiation, efforts to attract a new naming sponsor for the Team were unsuccessful,” the statement opened. “Consequently, it has become financially prohibitive to continue participation in the PFL.

“Primarily, the lack of broadcasting exposure in 2017 created an apprehension in the corporate community, cascading into a series of afflictions that has ultimately led to our withdrawal from the competition.”

Ilocos finished last during the inaugural season, tallying 1 win, 6 draws, and 21 losses with a -49 goal differential.

Still, Ilocos gave their thanks to those who supported the club during the inaugural PFL season.

“We are cautiously optimistic of a potential return to the PFL for the 2019 season, whereby secured broadcasting exposure will hopefully lead to higher confidence from potential sponsorship partners.”

While their PFL operations will fold for the time being, Ilocos will continue the grassroots programs they have started within the area. ¨In the meantime, the foundation of football development we helped to build in Ilocos will continue, including grassroots initiatives at local schools, women’s futsal, Special Olympics, and, of course, the IUFC Academy.¨

The latest development will be another big blow for the young league. Meralco Manila pulled out of the competition beforehand, and now Ilocos´ absence leaves only six teams in the competition.

Now more than ever, something needs to be done by the PFL or even the Philippine Football Federation to ensure the feasibility of the clubs and the league itself for years to come.

Football is a hard sport to build in the Philippines despite its resurgence since 2010. There are limited corporate boosters for the sport which is in dire need of a financial push to sustain its growth.

Ilocos´ leave and Meralco´s folding now forces local football´s stakeholders to take a step back and examine the next moves to build the sport.

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Jake Vicen performs under pressure as Blazers end eight-year title drought



For the second straight match, the championship showdown between the College of Saint Benilde Blazers and the Arellano University Chiefs reached a showdown from the penalty spot. And once more, goalkeeper Jake Vicen came up big.

The third-year custodian denied one of Arellano’s prolific scorers, Roberto Corsame, in the shootout and sealed the title after eight long years, 3-2, penalties, Wednesday evening at the historic Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The Blazers made their intentions clear from the get-go, as they repeatedly pierced through the defense of the Chiefs.

Nonetheless, in the 38th minute, the white-shirts clinched the goal they deserved. The Blazers pushed forward, and almost got a call in their favor. The referees, however, played advantage, and fortunately Benilde held on to the play.

Miguel Artillera found himself unmarked on the right flank and easily blasted the ball past opposing keeper Jericho Desalisa.

The Marlon Maro-mentored side continued to play aggressively in the following period, and almost plucked a second goal. This time, however, the Chiefs’ backline — led by eventual Best Defender Patrick Bernarte — held on.

Such a stand was rewarded by their attacking force minutes later, and, as expected, the equalizer came from the counterattack.

Corsame received a pass from the middle and defeated two defenders, and seeing Vicen off his line, sent the ball into the onion bag in the 49th minute.

Both sides tried to break the deadlock, but fatigue slowly crept up in the dying minutes of the second period and the whole of extra time, setting up another thrilling finish in the shootout.

Much like in Game 2, the two keepers came up big, as Desalisa and Vicen denied their second kickers a clear shot. Arellano went on to miss another shot, and it was then up to the Blazers to seal the deal.

Dean Ebarle stepped up and calmly slotted the ball into the goal for the lead at 3-2. Afterwards, Corsame faced Vicen, but this time, the Cebuano keeper would not be denied. The latter went to his strong side, and, fortunately, guessed right for the huge save, as pandemonium erupted from the Benilde crowd and squad.

The Finals series hero and season Best Goalkeeper Vicen was pleased that the new champions had carved out the historic win despite early adversity. “Big loss ‘yun, si Val [Calvo], kasi may magagawa talaga siya kung nakalaro namin,” he said of losing their former captain.

Nonetheless, the squad stayed focused on getting it done this year.

“Binuhos lang namin every minute sa training. Luckily, hard work paid off,” declared Vicen.

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Composed Ceres-Negros expels Shan United in shootout victory



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2017 AFC ASEAN Zone Champions Ceres-Negros banked on their poise and composure from the spot as they knocked out Myanmar’s Shan United via a 4-3 penalty shootout (1-1 after extra time) triumph, Tuesday evening at the Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.

The Negrenses punched their ticket to Brisbane, Australia after emerging the better spotkick takers. Four Busmen were on target, while two of their Shan Warriors counterparts fluffed their lines.

The two domestic champions were inseparable after 120 minutes, with the hosts holding their own against the Philippine champions. Ceres-Negros looked the more dominant of the two teams. However, they couldn’t make the advantage count where it mattered, as they failed to breach the sturdy Shan United defense inside the first two regulation halves.

The visitors were visibly more comfortable in the first half, but with the scores staying level at the break, the less-fancied Myanmar champions eventually found their footing in the encounter. While there were several half-chances from either side to open the scoring, both defenses remained defiant en route to unwanted extra time.

“It was a tough game. We weren’t ready to play 120 minutes because we only had four training sessions before the game but everytime we wear this jersey, we represent Ceres, we represent Bacolod, we represent the Philippines, so we have to give our best,” Ceres’ defender Carli de Murga elaborated to the Inquirer after the match. The Asian Football season has yet to start, and with both teams not too busy with pre-season preparations, rust and fatigue in a demanding affair were evident.

Come extra time, Ceres-Negros took the initiative when Stephan Schröck’s deflected effort went past the helpless Thiha Si Thu just three minutes into the first half.

Nonetheless, the hosts refused to go down without a fight, and their resilience was rewarded later in the opening half. Substitute Patrick Asare found the back of the net to restore parity in Yangon.

Another 15 minutes of goalless action took place in the second half as both teams looked more cautious, perhaps with the collective aim of avoiding a costly error or two. Among all the chances, Schröck’s in the 114th minute may have proved to be the closest to changing the scores, as his attempt shaved the post.

Shan United took to the spot first, where Asare made his penalty attempt count. Nay Lin Tun also made his, but not before teammate Chizoba smashed his attempt over Toni Doblas’ goal.

While the hosts squandered a shot, the visitors remained calm in front of a hostile Myanmar crowd. De Murga, Schröck and Mike Ott nailed their turns, with Marañon also not missing a vital kick from 12 yards.

It set up William Biassi Nyakwe, the man credited with the own goal when he deflected Schröck’s opener, with the chance to prolong his team’s campaign in the AFC Champions League. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t atone for his earlier mistake, as his attempt soared high and wide — much to the delight of the visiting team from Bacolod, the Philippines.

The reward for Ceres-Negros is a trip to Queensland, Australia, where they will seek to do one better than compatriots Global-Cebu. The 2016 Philippine champions also played against the Brisbane Roar, who dealt them a staggering 6-0 hammering this time last year. The match will be held at the Suncorp Stadium on January 23.

As for Shan United, a spot in the AFC Cup Group Stage awaits them and they may not have seen the last of Ceres-Negros just yet. If the Negrenses lose to either Brisbane Roar or Tianjin Quanjian, they will be reacquainted with the Burmese champions in Group F.

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Brazilian football legend Zico to visit Manila



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One of the best to ever play the Beautiful Game is coming to the Philippines. Zico, who electrified the footballing world in the ’70s and ’80s, is slated to visit Manila on the weekend of January 27.

The Brazilian, whose real name is Arthur Antunes Coimbra, is considered one of the best footballers in the world during the late 70’s and early 80’s. Zico starred for the Brazilian national team, scoring 48 goals in 71 appearances for the Selecao. In 1999, the attacking midfielder came 8th in the FIFA Player of the Century grand jury vote, and in 2004 was named in FIFA’s list of the world’s greatest living players.

Zico played for legendary Brazilian club Flamengo and also for the Italian Serie A team Udinese. He finished his playing career suiting up for Kashima Antlers in the J-League, the top tier of Japanese football, leading them to an unlikely runner-up finish.

The 64-year-old also had a successful managerial career, leading Turkey’s Fenerbahce, Greek team Olympiacos, and CSKA Moscow to titles. Zico was also in charge of the Japanese national team when they won the AFC Asian Cup in 2004. Because of that accomplishment, Zico is one of the most beloved football figures in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Seven Seas Properties, a company that promotes Philippine real estate and Philippine stocks in the Japanese market, is bringing the football icon here.

“We are delighted to welcome Zico to the Philippines. I’m sure he will give a big boost to the growing football scene here,” says Seven Seas Properties President Yukihiro Nishimura.

Zico will attend a CSR event with young footballers from underprivileged communities on Saturday, January 27. The following day, Sunday January 28, he will lead a football clinic for elite young players and coaches in the McKinley Hill stadium in Taguig. Football fans and media are welcome to watch this event, which kicks off at 2:00 pm. Admission is free.

Zico in Manila is also made possible by Otsuka – Solar Philippines, Inter Sports Partners, AgriNurture, and Primex.

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