Visayas football event comes to Batangas
MANILA, Philippines – The scion of one of the Philippines' biggest family conglomerates looks to bring one of the biggest football events in the Visayas to Luzon.
The Aboitiz Cup, one of the major football tournaments in Cebu that has grown to over 320 teams and 6000 players, will branch out to Batangas by October.
Eduardo “Dudes" Aboitiz, the commercial business unit head of Aboitiz Land, said at least 8 Azkals honed their craft in the Aboitiz Cup.
In the Visayas, perhaps only the Ceres Cup in Bacolod can compete in terms of sheer numbers of players.
“The Aboitiz Cup has always been about providing local players a venue to show their skills,” said Aboitiz in a recent media conference.
While the competition – which encompasses numerous age groups all the way to senior play – will kick off in the Queen City in a few weeks, Aboitiz will hold the inaugural Aboitiz Football Cup Luzon starting October 13.
This new spin-off will take place in Aboitiz's new stadium at the Lima Technology Center between Malvar and Lipa in Batangas.
The format will be one-day festivals with age groups for boys from U7 to U21. There will also be girls play in two divisions, U15 and U18, as well as senior 11-a-side matches and 38-and up and 45-and-up categories. Mixed events that require certain numbers of female players on the pitch as well as corporate divisions are also planned.
The Aboitiz pitch is believed to be the largest synthetic play field in the country. It has a 102m x 68m main field but two smaller 11-a-side pitches also fit across it. That will allow lots of room for multiple 7-a-side matches to be played at the same time.
The event is a partnership among Aboitiz Land, the Outlets at Lipa, and sports event specialists RSA 1 Group, spearheaded by Rely San Agustin and his wife Danii.
The pitch lies within the Outlets at Lipa complex inside Lima Technology Center. Outlets general manager Joey Zamora said big brands like Adidas, Nike, H&M and SSI will soon open stores there to sell their goods at reduced prices. Aboitiz is trying to replicate the success of their Pueblo Verde outlet mall in Lapu-lapu City, Cebu.
The idea seems to attract football fans and players to the pitch and give the rest of the family plenty of options to shop or dine. Big dining chains like Gilligans are set to open up in the mall as well.
There will be one big difference between the original Aboitiz Cup in Cebu and the one in Lipa. The Cebu Aboitiz Cup is usually a league played over many weeks, even for younger age groups. The Lipa edition will, for this year, be a series of one-day festivals, with different age groups on different weekends.
“For better awareness of the pitch we decided to go for one-day festivals first,” said San Agustin.
There seemed to be some concern from some teams about traveling to Lipa every week for an extended period of time. So this is the setup for now. San Agustin did say that once fans and players drive to the site, they will realize it's a pleasant 60km ride from Manila, almost all on the SLEX.
The organizers did, however, show a willingness to consider the league format of the mother tournament in Cebu in succeeding years.
This competition will be a boost to a thriving football scene in the Batangas area and surrounding provinces. The highly successful NCAA South, with teams like Letran Calamba, University of Batangas, De La Salle Lipa, LPU Batangas, has a well-established football competition. There is talk that Ang Liga, the preseason football tournament, will also create a league for the south of Metro Manila.
There is one Batangueño currently playing in the PFL, Ronilo Bayan, goalie for the Davao Aguilas. Bayan, from Nasubgu, had several stellar performances for Davao in this year's league and is no doubt inspiring his province-mates to take up the sport.
The league will run from October 13 to December 9, and all are welcome to join festivities on opening day. Aside from the football and discount deals on big brands, Joey Zamora has one more enticement: “There will be cold beer on us.”
Follow Bob on Twitter @PassionateFanPH. – Rappler.com