If you failed to catch recent football action in Bacolod, lamented at the national team’s being disallowed to play on Philippine soil during the match against Indonesia, or found a ticket to Ulaanbaatar for the next game against Mongolia too pricey, weep no more.
The Philippines’ largest football tournament pitting teams representing the world’s football greats, World Cup Pilipinas (WCP), now on its second year, takes place right at historic Luneta from April 30 to May 15. In addition to past teams Sudan, India, Ivory Coast, England, Netherlands, Brazil, Sweden, and others, the participation of Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, and Nepal are expected.
Defending champion, team Pilipinas won last year’s tourney in a hard-fought battle versus Ivory Coast. This year’s tilt features a double elimination system where teams who do not qualify for the Cup competition will face-off in a lower tier contest for 1st place, too. On finals day, May 15, the two 11-a-side divisions will vie for 2 top awards. Also happening on the same day, a whole-day, 7-a-side competition will be held. Overall, final’s day will feature 3 tournaments plus a cultural festival and victory party right at the Luneta grounds.
The football fever currently taking the nation by storm was set-off when the Philippine National Team, known as the Azkals, was disallowed to play an international tournament on home ground due to inadequate facilities, following heroic victories overseas. This highlights the fact that not only do we lack tournament-standard pitches, as viewed by main football movers abroad, but we simply do not have enough football fields of any kind.
Many months before this came into public consciousness, WCP was launched as an advocacy to create new public football fields for all, by virtue of the tournament’s being played on new grounds, each time. The drive to be able to leave a field for the enjoyment of all, in a real and symbolic undertaking involving all possible sectors coming together as one for football, is now a continuing mission.
The first field at the Cultural Center of the Philippine’s (CCP) Liwasang Ipil-Ipil was made possible through the hard work and awareness-building of the CCP Administration, Philippine Army’s 525th Engineering Brigade, the Philippine Football Federation, the Pasay City Mayor’s Office, the Foreign Correspondents’ Association of the Philippines, Castrol, Century Tuna, The Manila Times, BusinessWorld, Radio Partners, Inc., Sunken Garden United Football Club, and football friends Cristy Ramos, Heber Bartolome, TJ Manotoc, Bong Pedralvez, Tito Encarnacion, Papadom Gamboa, Bb. Pilipinas Friendship Gizelle Rivamonte, and Isko Cordero. From rubble and ungraded grassland, a playable football field materialized in 2 weeks time.
All are enjoined to help out and sign-up, for the love of football. Show your support on Facebook by searching “World Cup Pilipinas.” A kick-off reggae festival will be held April 16 to launch WCP – Year 2. Admission to all games is free to the general public.