Iloilo football teams ready for 4th NOFA Cup

Ilonggo booters, from a young age, groomed and continuously trained on the basics of football in order to compete in major tournaments. (Edwin Caro Laru-an)

ILONGGO football teams are raring for the much-anticipated 4th Negros Occidental Football Association (NOFA) Cup in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental from May 29 to June 2, 2019.

Three Iloilo-based teams, including Barotac Nuevo which recently ruled the 2019 Palarong Pambansa, will see action in this year’s football tournament.

Panay Football Association (PFA) and Janiuaynon Defenders FCI will also represent Iloilo.

Head coach Ariel Bedic of Barotac Nuevo FC will mentor the Ilonggo booters in the tournament. He hopes they can channel the experience and exposure they had in the Palarong Pambansa and carry it forward to the tournament.

“We always train even if we don’t have upcoming games, that’s why our players can adjust in various types of play,” he added.

24 football teams in the country will battle in the competition which is considered as one of the biggest local tournaments devoted to grassroots football, NOFA is expected to bring more powerhouse teams in the country this year.

Other participating teams from the Visayas Island are Bacong FC, Baybay FC Jaguars, Don Bosco FC – Cebu, Dynamic FC, Green Global FC, Kidz United FC, and Siquijor Regional Football Association (NOSIRFA).

Luzon-based squads are defending champion One La Salle, Ceres Youth FC, Claret School of Quezon City, Federated Football Association of Masbate, Hedcen, Loyola FC, Makati FC, and Sugod Malaya FC.

Davao Crocs FC, Golden Harvest, Marawi Ground Zero Team, Marist Kidapawan, Mt. Apo Regional FA and Pagatpat FC will also represent Mindanao in the nine-a-side tournament to be held at the Sta. Maria Field.

Domingo Subo, coach of the Palaro secondary boys’ football team, said Ilonggo players are always ready to play against bigger opponents.

“We are trained to play our hearts out even if our opponents are from bigger squads. We make sure that win or lose; we give them a good fight. As they compete in this year’s NOFA, I am confident that they can win and surpass tough teams in the country,” he added.

NOFA Cup aims to improve the proficiency and character of boys in the Under 13 age category, according to NOFA President Ricky Yanson. The 4th NOFA Cup marks the debut of the Marawi Ground Zero Team, a group of young footballers that have quickly taken to the sport in the province that is rebuilding itself after armed conflict between government forces and militant groups.

The annual event which gathered hundreds of young booters is supported by Dynamic Football League, the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) and the province of Negros Occidental.