Since our establishment, we have always maintained that Philippine Generations (PG) was to first and foremost facilitate the advancement of the Philippines, its culture and its people. As a project and an idea, Philippine United FC ticks all the boxes!
On 17th January 2009, a press conference and first meeting was held at the Philippine Embassy in Suffolk Street London, by the manager, coaches and players of Philippine United FC. Present at the Embassy, were four players from the Philippine national football team, Fulham reserve goalkeeper, Neil Etheridge and Chris, Phil and Simon Greatwich. Although Neil is currently the highest profile footballer in the national team, in footballing terms, the Younghusband brothers, formerly of Chelsea, are so high profile in the Philippines it is unreal, from advertising billboards to reality TV, they are helping football become more mainstream in a country where basketball and boxing rule. Covering the event were ABS-CBN and One Philippines. Also present were coaches Norm Parkin and Steve Conroy, who are officially endorsed and brought into the loop by Mari Martinez, president of the Philippine Football Federation (PFF).
A big thank you needs to go out to Deputy Chief of Mission at the Philippine Embassy, Reynaldo Catapang and the new Consul General Tess De Vega, who helped organise and hosted the event at the Philippine Embassy. After a few words from the Embassy, Leo Jensen, PG, Neil Etheridge and the Greatwich brothers and the coaches and players of PUFC, winners of the logo and kit design were chosen. The home kit was designed by Jane Estanislao, the away kit by Roger Pe and the logo by Engel Cepillo. Their winning designs are below.
As an idea, PUFC has existed for many years, as a project 2008 was the year it all happened. Football is something very close to my heart and in 2004 on a trip to the Philippines I bought my first Philippines national shirt. I wanted to buy seven or more but could only get five for me and my friends. The reason being if I bought anymore, the players would have no kit…The Philippines has come a long way since.
It started with a ‘so ridiculous it could be true’ story leaked to the press as Paul ‘Gazza’ Gascoigne was admitted into rehab, that he was being considered as a potential manager for the Filipino national team. It would have been great press for the Philippines, who knows it might even have worked! However, it all fizzled out and the man quoted in the press was Leo Jensen, a Dane married to a Filipina, living in Manchester, who had set up an organisation named PFAUK with the aim of bringing the Philippine National team to the UK to play some matches against big UK teams. This was not the first time I had heard of Leo or PFAUK, he was first brought to my attention by Rob Hollands, when the PFAUK first set up and when a project based in Brighton talked of starting a Filipino football team here in the UK. At the time I tried to get involved but those involved did not inspire me with confidence.
Following the Gazza story, I got in contact again with Leo, this time in the context of PG and many discussions took place. This all coincided with a group of young Filipinos, Fili Footballers UK, meeting up in Regents Park to play football, their aims were clear, get a group of Filipinos together to play regularly and assemble a team. Once again their existence was brought to my attention by Rob Hollands. I played a few times, although an old recurring ankle injury meant that playing was more sporadic than was hoped.
PG was involved to an extent in both projects, so when news came from the PFF in Manila that they had endorsed Leo to carry out informal trials in the UK for young Filipinos it seemed almost perfect. News was spread and the young guys from Regents park were joined by others from around the UK in Manchester in August 2008 for a trial and a match against the Manchester East team. A match those who were chosen to play won, convincingly.
This was great news for everyone concerned, the PFF received footage and saw the young guys play, stories were written all over the internet about the trials, some completely out of context and not for the benefit of those who took part or those with an interest in football or the Philippines.
Finally the aims of three separate organisations, PFAUK, Fili Footballers UK and PG, were brought together as Leo officially registered a team with the English FA in Manchester, named Philippine United FC. The aim is to join a league, act as a feeder team for the national team and potentially for the impending Philippine Premier League. Friendly matches need to be arranged and a league needs to be joined in London, with the endorsement of the PFF, a direct route to Philippines has been established. Eventual matches in the Philippines are planned and everything is set in motion for young Filipinos to realise a dream.
It will not be easy, the players need to be prepared to work hard and stay determined, it will not happen over night, it may not happen this year, but the harder they work, the closer they will get. All it takes is a player to impress and trial in the Philippines and then a dream can turn into reality.
If you want to find out more about Philippine United FC or discuss how Philippine Generations can help you or your organisation, please contact us. You can also read the article written by Ed Lao about PFUK on ABS-CBN website. http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/pinoy-migration/01/27/09/philippine-united-first-pinoy-soccer-team-uk
By Adrian Williams.