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Sunday at the Los Borrachos Cup

ACF Real Molinillo participated in the first-ever Los Borrachos Cup in Malate.
First of all, before anybody gets any wrong ideas, Google Translate says that ‘borrachos’ means ‘drunks.’ The cup itself was a one-day futsal tournament organised by a Manila-based club called Los Borrachos FC, which to my knowledge is made up of San Beda-Manila alumni.

My club, ACF Real Molinillo, received an invitation to play because one of the organisers from the host club, Gary Rabano, played high school football for me in the nineties. It is not exactly a secret that, in the eighties and nineties, my high school teams were among the main feeders of San Beda-Manila’s college football team.

The first staging of the tournament attracted eight teams in all, including us: Mendiola FC, Meralco FC, Gators FC, Primero FC, Alabuelo FC, Corinthians FC and the host club. The venue was the JSU-AMOSUP Sports Complex in Malate, along the same street as the Philippine Women’s University.

More than half of the players we brought along were among the club's 'babes.'

The lads who came along all played high school football at one time or the other under me.
Unfortunately, we were not at what one could say full strength. The problem with a Sunday club like ours is that participation is often constrained by school, work and personal commitments. In fact, more than half of our squad yesterday were babes in football terms, young college players not presently involved in any college varsity teams.

We started brightly, winning one and drawing two of our opening three games. But then came a dilemma: to have lunch or not to have lunch. There was just a thirty-minute window for the lads to grab something to eat before we were due to play again; and because of the early call time, many just grabbed something on the fly for breakfast.

Common sense dictated that the boys get something to eat; so we hurried off to a nearby makeshift diner for lunch. It was downhill upon our return, unfortunately; as we played when the boys were still basically in digestion mode.

Commons sense dictated that the boys grabbed something for lunch; but it was downhill afterwards.
Still, I have been in this business for longer than most; and I know for a fact that players’ welfare always takes precedence over any trophies. At the end of the day, what mattered was that we were able to provide an activity for club members, something which we formed the club for in the first place.

In a way, for me there was a sense of nostalgia in our participation in the Los Borrachos Cup. Getting up at dawn, grabbing a quick bite, traveling in a van to the venue, making a pit stop at the Caltex complex along SLEX on the way back home…

This was pretty much my life for more than two decades when I used to coach high school teams. Thankfully, these days I only need to do this every now and again. I thoroughly enjoyed the day out with the lads; but I have a hard time believing that I did that every week for more than twenty years!

In fact, Eric Manglo, now councillor of the city of Tanauan and a player in the first high school team that I coached in 1982-84, played for Los Borrachos FC yesterday. He was one of those with whom I started my football journey; and if there was at all a highlight to yesterday’s adventure, it was the end of the day chat with him about the old days with some of the younger boys listening in.

Getting up at dawn, traveling in a van... Reminded me of something I did every week for more than 20 years.
Eric is now nearing 50; and some of the younger lads with me laughed that they were not even born yet when he played high school football for me. But if these younger boys continue playing until they get to Eric’s age, then that, I suppose, will be my greatest legacy.

I used to be something of an oddity when I chose football over other sports when I was a youngster; and if I have taught kids to love the game and to never let go of that love till they are old and grey, then that gives me more satisfaction than any championship trophies.