By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
WHEN Maharlika Football Club plays its maiden season in the Philippines Football League expect it looking to make things happen both on and off the field, anchored on its vision of putting to the fore the love for the sport.
Recently got the nod to be the newest entrant in the PFL, Maharlika FC said it welcomes the opportunity not only to parlay its wares in the league but also at possibly changing the mindset as far as how football affairs of teams are conducted in the country.
“The mentality of the team is to play for the love of the sport. We’re all friends. We played against each other. We know the state of football here and we pretty much share the same vision. We all know football can be a huge sport here,” said Maharlika FC founder Anton Del Rosario in an online presser launching the team on Wednesday.
Mr. Del Rosario, a former member of the Philippine Azkals, shared that they have crafted a tack in line with its thrust as a team, including involving more the fans and have players who just truly want to play.
In fact, in its first season in the PFL, Maharlika FC will pay its players only one peso each.
Mr. Del Rosario said such an approach is geared towards putting focus more on sustainability and not so much on money, which the Maharlika FC founder believes has not been the case, by and large, recently, stymieing the growth of the sport.
“When it comes down to it, the football league here in the country has had a roller-coaster tenure. We started strong especially after the Azkals then we saw a huge dip in the sport. With the popularity and stuff like that. So I believe to make teams sustainable again, and we don’t have teams coming in promising all these wages and not being able to pay, we need to break it down and sort of find out why people want to play. And we want to take the money part out of it and start building communities within the teams,” Mr. Del Rosario said.
“We have to build our own communities to be able to support our teams. And that hasn’t happened for many of the teams. It seems like they forgot about their fans and supporters and they focused on the competition of having the best team and having the best players and offering the most money. And I think it took away from the love of the game,” he added.
Currently, like the other teams in the PFL, Maharlika FC has started its preparation for the league’s new season, which is targeted to begin next month, just as it is in process of completing its roster.
The team, coached by Roxy Dorias, is shaping up to be a squad composed of former Azkals, professional footballers and some youth players.
Among the players already on board are Misagh Bahadoran, Cedric Hodreal, Joaco Canas, Jerry Barbaso, Daniel Matsunaga and David Basa.
Apart from Maharlika FC, also set to compete in the fourth season of the PFL, now presented by Qatar Airways, are Kaya FC-Iloilo, Mendiola FC 1991, Stallion Laguna FC, United City Football Club and the Azkals Development Team.
The new season of the PFL was supposed to start in March until the coronavirus pandemic forced it to be pushed back.