#KoponanNgMasa, Team of the Masses. A cliche catchphrase that many teams have tried using, but one that had always been difficult to pull off.
So what makes a team ‘of the masses’?
True enough, if you want to represent the masses, you need to be of the masses. This is a big, big ask considering that modern teams are usually built with big money, something that is normally not attributed with the masses.
And to be honest, that’s what I thought too. How could Maharlika FC, a team built by people not known to be of the masses, pull this off? A question that I am still waiting to see.
But it’s not a question that would remain unanswered. After a recent discussion between one of the key founders, Anton Del Rosario, and the #EatSleepBreatheFootball gang, some of the heavy doubts we had have certainly been lifted. And honestly, it left us yearning for more.
Just like any other concept, it starts with a small chance. And in this story, it came when Philippines Football League Commissioner Coco Torre asked a simple question: Would you like to field a team?
This small question put in to place a series of events that eventually led to the birth of a new club, Maharlika FC.
This came at a very opportune time. We have all been eagerly waiting for the start of the 2020 Philippines Football League powered by Qatar Airways. And even though the opening has been pushed further by COVID-19, yet again, it just gave the league more time to iron out some wrinkles. In particular, the void left by a now folded club that remains to be filled.
So what makes this club a legit #KoponanNgMasa?
Anton, in that same interview, described his new club as one that would “make them [the fans] feel as if they’re part of the team.” adding that, “We really want to be a team that helps grow the sport in the country.”
“We want to be able to bring a different side of what Philippines football has received out here.”Anton Del Rosario on Maharlika FC
While it has been one of the things that all clubs would ideally want, Maharlika FC wants to stand out as a club that truly listens to their fans. This is what they want to show as their identity.
“I believe it’s something that’s been missing.” said Del Rosario who had been playing for, and in the Philippines for more than 2 decades.
We all know that there is a thriving football community here in the Philippines. Yes it is small, but thriving for sure. And that’s exactly why the club sees this as an untapped resource. Anton could only describe, “The football community is very big and very strong out here, it just hasn’t been voiced out.”
Their main plan is to grow their fan base by truly involving the fans in big decisions. Although we’re still waiting to see how they mean about this, it is definitely something that hasn’t been tried before.
But one of their biggest achievement so far is how they are fanning the flames of interest. And we can have their unique and active marketing strategy to thank for that. One of their key fronts is getting the marketing done right. “We want to do it through proper marketing.” Del Rosario shared in the interview.
And let me tell you, we are already curious because of that. It’s definitely not one where true fans would switch teams, which is really impossible at this point, but one that creates that bit of mystery. And we could all use a bit of that.
Of course, thinking of the concept and executing it is one thing. But making it sustainable and competitive is another. And while we all have our doubts on this, Anton has told us that they intend to complete with the end goal of being the top team in the country. They want to eventually represent Philippine club football in the Champion’s League.
And they plan to do so with a lineup that he believes is strong. Most of the details are still in the blur because according to Del Rosario, “It’s all a suprise.”
But he did leave us with subtle clues.
“I asked these guys to come out of retirement and play some football.” said Anton, emphasizing that, “Not one of the players is getting paid.” One of the reasons is because they want to “make sure that we are sustainable before we start throwing out big offers for monthly salaries…”
Although winning is what they intend to do, that isn’t their end goal. According to that interview, their main objective is to “create a strong foundation that we can rely on.” And what he means simply is getting known football names into the fold, on and off the pitch.
Given the recent retirements that we had this year, and the recent retirements in the previous years of players we know are good, I’m sure that with a bit of imagination, we can narrow the list down a bit. Hello Azkals and friends!
They plan on utilizing their good mix of young and old members, capitalizing on the age groups and generations that they pull in.
But sustainability also means that they need to invest in the future. And with that in mind, Anton gladly shared with us that they have also tapped locally grown talents currently playing in the UAAP. Although he is yet to name them, there are a few UAAP upstarts who looks to be joining the team, exchanging collegiate for professional football.
Not mentioning how he had tried to build the idea that Maharlika FC will build their football on giving opportunities for the youth, we can already see that they have good plans to start with.
And while we are still wondering where this team would call home, we are told that they were already in talks with various LGUs and public officials.
Although we can name a few. One thing is for sure, Maharlika FC wants their team to represent football in that city completely and perfectly with plans to involve the local comminity in their quest for football glory.
“Trust me, its gonna be very exciting this season.”Anton on the club’s involvement this season
While we look forward to how the league will look by the time it starts, all we want is for Philippine Football to move forward, to keep safe, and to keep going. We’ve all been through football’s ups and downs. Maybe, just maybe, this could be the spark that the league’s been missing.
I am still half and half about it. But regardless, I’m sure Philippine Football is looking ever so brighter. And this is despite the new normal.
Here’s to the new season. See you on the touchline!