by Edward Lao, ABS-CBN Europe
LONDON – To celebrate the 113th anniversary of Philippine independence, London-based charity Philippine Generations (PG) hosted the Philippine Independence Day World Cup (PIDWC) last June 12 in an indoor sports center close to the city’s business hub of Canary Wharf.
Last year, PG hosted the first 5-aside football tournament, which was well-received by the community. Due to popular demand, the organization decided to hold a bigger tournament this year.
Sixteen teams participated in the competition. Each team was required to have at least 1 Filipino player, and the team names had to be inspired by areas from the Philippines.
Some of the entrants included Ilocos Superflys, The Only Way is Alabang, Manila Guerillaz and Leyte Legends.
The 16 teams were split into four groups, with the top two from each group proceeding to the quarterfinals.
Last year’s champions, Manila Ice, could not defend their crown after failing to make it to the knock-out stages. They went out on goal difference after conceding in the dying seconds of their final group fixture.
Two female teams also participated, an improvement from last year when there was only one. PG Management Committee member Ava Batay-an of Malacañang Monsters was pleased about the turn-out.
“Last year, we had one team and I thought we should do better, we should create more. So this year, we have two teams. Hopefully next year, we’ll have more,” Batay-an said.
The female teams lost all their games, but said they still enjoyed participating.
“It’s part of us Filipinos, acculturating ourselves in the UK (United Kingdom). Football is massive in the UK. It’s not as big in the Philippines. It’s getting bigger now but it’s a good thing for us to participate in this kind of cultural activity happening in England. I thought it’s something nice for us to do,” Batay-an added.
PG Chair Adrian Williams explained why they held the event and invited other ethnicities to take part as well.
“It’s… all about trying to give more confidence to Filipinos through sport. Filipinos playing with Filipinos, that happens all the time,” Williams said.
“What we wanted was to give them the opportunity to play with other nationalities and show that they’re equals. So from our point of view, it’s the confidence of achieving alongside those who aren’t Filipinos as well.
“There are lots of players who are in mixed teams. The people who are playing are the best of friends. They are ninongs, ninangs to their children, and they’re not Filipino. This is a family and community event that’s wider than just the Filipino community,” Williams said.
Negros United player Carl Duggay was born in the UK to a father from Sierra Leone and mother from Abra, Luzon. He was glad to participate in the tournament.
“Football is the number one sport here and I’m happy that something like this was arranged so that the Filipinos in England can come together as one and enjoy themselves. There’s no trouble, we’re just enjoying ourselves in the spirit of sport,” Duggay said.
ABS-CBN Europe caught up with eventual champions Bora Warriors, otherwise known as the Blazers, a few games before their appearance in the final against Marikina United.
“To be part of this team is an honor,” said Richie Caparros.
“I’ve been playing with these guys for nearly nine years. To be here brings everyone together. Some of the players have known each other since way back before. It’s good to see old faces,” he added.
The final between the Bora Warriors and Marikina United ended in a 2-0 victory for the former.
PG has announced that it will be holding another Philippine Independence Day World Cup next year, but they are aiming to expand the field to 32 teams.
The organization also hopes to attract enough female teams in order to hold a separate mini-tournament for women.