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The 2nd LSFC Cup

LSFC, as if you did not already know, stands for La Salle Football Club. That may sound a bit pompous because although the boys and I – at one point and I do not even recall exactly when – tried to get ourselves organized into a real club, we never actually got around to doing so. Yet we – I and everyone who has trained under me – just think of ourselves as LSFC. It is as simple as that.

Just because I used to teach History, allow me to burden you for a while with a bit of it.

In 1982, fresh out of college and getting myself into something I did not – then – think I would really make a lifetime career out of, I naturally wanted to coach the football team in addition to my main job as high school teacher. This was not too difficult to arrange because the former coach had just already left to pursue another career and I brought with me varsity and Division I football as my credentials.

The first squad of players who trained under me will all have their stories to tell about how it was like; but I would just like to tell here how we got around to calling ourselves LSFC.

In college, I was known as a real aficionado of the game. I did not simply play the game; I also followed it with real enthusiasm. As an example, just so I could keep in touch with what was going on in English Division I football, I would happily starve myself just so I could buy three-day old South China Morning Post newspapers at the lobby of the Sheraton.

When I went into coaching – and being naïve and idealistic as a 23-year old could get – I thought I would try to bring in some unheard of loony ideas to this football backwater called Lipa. The first of this was to get rid of the varsity system widely used in schools around the country; something that I suspect was inherited from the American educational system.

Basically, the school’s varsity system went like this: a try-out was announced and held; then the coach picked out players he or she thought were good enough to play for the varsity team. The coach stuck with the same set of players until the next year, when a new try-out would be held. This was well and good for the basketball teams, basketball always having had a wider base of knowledgeable players.

For football, this was not possible. From the beginning, I always had to think of my team as a perpetually ongoing process. I wanted to be able to pick the right team for a particular tournament; and not necessarily the same set of players for another. Anybody who wanted to join was accepted. To this day, I have never really learned to turn away a player unless I think playing football will only be physically detrimental to him. Having said that, I have always made it clear to all who came that being accepted to train was not the same as being picked to represent the school.

Therefore – or so I told that first set of boys who came to join my team – I was introducing the club system. We would therefore call ourselves La Salle Football Club instead of the La Salle football varsity.

Of course, as far as the rest of the school was concerned, we were the football varsity; and not that I cared. To my mind, it was just an internal arrangement; officially, we were still the varsity. The boys did care, though! I think the boys had a lot more to do with perpetuating the acronym LSFC than I ever did. Before long, it was being scribbled on their backpacks; doodled on their notebooks during boring lectures; and would you believe, even etched with a finger once on dusty window jalousies.

In no time at all, everyone in school referred to the football team as LSFC. So there; the history part is done.

After my first set of boys graduated, I always made sure that matches were arranged whenever they were free to so they could play against the current team. Many of the boys went on to play varsity football in college as well; and not just a few even got chosen to wear the national colors. Suiting up against more experienced and skillful players, I always recognized, was something that could only be beneficial to players of the high school team.

So, it became more or less traditional for us to hold these reunion games during the semestral break and then again in December during the Christmas holidays. The October games had to be eventually done away with and I do not exactly recall how or when. We did continue to hold – without fail – our December reunion games.

These were just nothing games. Anyone from among the alumni who was free and who cared just went safe in the knowledge that the high school team would be there to play against. I think seeing each other to briefly relive the glory days has always been the reason why LSFC alumni come. An afternoon’s workout was just the added bonus.

For the young kids in the high school teams, it was always an opportunity to see and get to know those who wore the colors before them. Whenever I could, I always made it a point to introduce the older players to the youngsters.

Many times, I just do things without even thinking of the impact these things would have in the future. I never imagined, for instance, that these reunion games would one day make us probably the best networked team in school. Everyone just sort of knows everyone at least by sight.

Making a tournament out of these reunion games is not something that has never been suggested to me. I just never got around to doing something about it.

Last year, though, Gary Gardoce of the 1984 team – and now a film cinematographer – took the initiative with a little help from his class- and teammates. Because they were celebrating the 25th anniversary of their graduation from the school, a football festival was one of the planned activities. Considering that there were those who were planning to come, anyway, organizing the festival – which we called the 1st LSFC Cup – was no problem whatsoever.

Yesterday, we had the second edition of the event; and hopefully, we will continue to do this for years to come. There was a bit of poignancy to yesterday’s festival. The trophy was donated by the family of the late Darwin Motel, LSFC 1994 who also played for San Beda College and the Philippine National Football Team.

This time last year, while we were holding the festival for the first time, we were shocked to receive word that he had been in a car accident earlier in the morning. He would eventually succumb to the injuries he obtained from the accident. The 2nd LSFC was, therefore, appropriately also called the Darwin Motel Memorial Trophy.

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