Having seen the Philippine Air Force Football Team in action, and having been witness to the advancing popularity of football, no time is more ideal to introduce this surging football club than now.
Witness: 2010 United Football League Champions. A team reeking of national team promise. Unsung heroes of the football field. Long story short, it’s about time we get to know more about these folks.
The goal of course, is to make sure the football-loving public gets acquainted with this ultra talented squad. Hence, this little Q&A, starting with the team’s assistant manager, Albert Masuda.
(In this photo: Philippine Air Force Rider Head Coach Ed Bracamonte)
Albert Masuda, Assistant Manager of the Philippine Air Force Football Team
How did the Air Force Football Team start?
The Air Force Team started way back in the 60s, because even during that time we already have teams for the armed forces – the Philippine Army, Philippine Navy, and the Philippine Air Force. But the glory years were actually during the 80s, the team was managed by Lopi Pascual who later on became the Philippine Football Federation President. Tuloy-tuloy yun because we had good players and good products until the 90s. Now we have two players playing for the national team.
And the team has been doing well from the get-go.
As far as I can remember there’s no year na hindi kami nag-champion, on a national level competition. When we joined the UFL in 2010, kami kaagad ang nag-champion. There’s a long list of titles na napanalunan na namin.
How come Ian Araneta and Chieffy Caligdong are the only Air Force players playing for the Azkals right now?
I cannot actually say na Fil-foreigners are being prioritized because maybe they are actually better in terms of skill and desire. Maybe in some things they are being prioritized because they have more talent than our players, so yun ang habulin natin. The team is here to stay, we are here to develop homegrown players. We cannot get imports kasi bawal.
How is the team planning to take advantage of the booming football fever?
We are planning to go to the provinces to scout for more players, so chance na ito ng young generation. Just give us several years more and we can compete in the international level. We have seen in the game against Kuwait, we saw how Chieffy Caligdong and Ian Araneta improve. They didn’t play that well when they first came in the Air Force team. We trained them and they were exposed in the national team. We can create more Ians and Chieffys in the future kung ganun ang gagawin.
Is there any Air Force player we should watch out for?
They should watch out for Jobel Bermejo, the reigning MVP of the United Football League. We also have younger players from Bacolod so we are training them as well, but I think this is the year of Jobel Bermejo.
Next: Q&A with Jobel Bermejo, the reigning UFL MVP
PHOTOS BY JUNE BRACAMONTE