They are ready. They are raring to go. All the talk is done and it is simply time for them to showcase their skills and talents on the pitch.
A week after getting their provisional license to participate in the 2020 Philippines Football League brought to you by Qatar Airways, Maharlika FC faced the press in a virtual meet and greet through Sports on Air where they answered all of the lingering questions from the media and the fans.
Anton Del Rosario, the founder of the club, alongside Choy Calungsod, their general manager, and Maharlika FC’s head coach Roxy Dorlas, have solidified their main goal why they joined the league.
“Our football league here in the country, its been a rollercoaster over the last 10 years. We have to start building communities within the team,” said by Del Rosario.
Why Maharlika FC?
The word maharlika may pertain to being a person high or great by birth. It may also mean regal. But for Anton and the rest of the squad, it means being a warrior.
“We’re fighting for the sustainability of the sports, the grassroots, and the youth. We are fighting for football,” said ex-Azkal Del Rosario.
Just like how he fought alongside the great names of Phil and James Younghusband, Chieffy Caligdong, Neil Etheridge, and the rest of the Miracle in Hanoi squad, Anton takes on another role, this time, being the trailblazer for the Philippine Club football scene.
It’s not a hidden fact that the players of Maharlika FC are not being paid as much as the players in the pro clubs like United City FC and Kaya FC-Iloilo which might’ve raised some eyebrows.
How can you field a squad that doesn’t get compensated for what they are doing? Simple, they do it for the love of the sport.
For Anton, he wants to start from scratch and know why the players want to play the beautiful game. Is it for the money or is it for the love of the game?
Sure enough, the players, be it ex-Azkals, pros or newcomers, will definitely do it regardless of any monetary compensation. They want to establish their names in Philippine football and whatever comes after that, is just going to be a bonus.
What makes you the #KoponanNgMasa?
In terms of their #KoponanNgMasa statement, Choy mentioned that “Aligned yan sa vision ng Maharlika FC na we really reach out to the masses.”
The club has players from different walks of life though it may seem most of them are among the elites. However, this does not mean that they are advocating for football being the sport for the elites.
“Kung gusto mo maglaro ng football at a professional level, may opportunity dito. Nandidito kami. Yan ang koponan ng masa,” a strong statement from Maharlika FC’s GM Calungsod.
He also mentioned that the club aims to immerse themselves into the community whichever city they will be tying up with.
“Gusto namin mamulat yung mga tao na ang football ay para sa lahat. Pwedeng laruin ng kahit na sino.”
Anton followed it up by reaffirming their mission to bring football closer to the masses and to give opportunites to the youth.
“We’re very close in affiliating ourselves to a city. I want to make sure that our club creates something for that community to have a proper youth program and structure.”
Who’s your biggest asset?
If you think it’s the players, Maharlika FC will prove you wrong. Since they came up with the club, they always make their fans the leaders of the club. Whatever you want, we’ll give it to you so long as we can. This has been the case since day one for Maharlika FC.
From which players to sign to what style of football should they play, they always want to know what their fans think. If all things work well for them, it will be a first in Philippine club football that fans, are at the center of the club’s ambition and drive.
Yes, the other clubs participating in the PFL can say that their fans are important and they need them to win their matches but not everyone is involved in the decision-making of the club.
Maharlika FC, if they pull this off, will set a standard in Philippine football where the ideas and suggestions of the fans play an integral part in any of the clubs’ campaign.
What happens if you make it to the AFC?
As we all know, this season will be huge for Philippine football as the winner of the league gets an outright spot in the AFC Champions League group stages while the runners-up will represent the country in the AFC Cup.
With the line-up that Maharlika FC are boasting and if luck favours their side, they might end up getting one of the two slots for intercontinental club football in their maiden season.
If this happens, are they ready? Do they meet the requirements and if not, how are they going to do it?
“The license we have is provisional. There are things we need to work on. There’s a deadline set for us to submit the program to PFF,” said Calungsod.