DUMAGUETE CITY, (PNA) -– The FC Azukals is gearing up to represent the province of Negros Oriental in the regional qualifiers of the Philippine Football Federation-Smart National Club championship tournament to be held in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental next month.
This comes after the Azukal Football Club (FC Azukals) emerged as champions in the 4th Silliman Football Club held recently in Dumaguete in line with the 112th Silliman University Founders’ Day celebration.
In that tournament, the Azukals beat nine other football clubs and school teams, earning the right to represent Negros Oriental in the 2013 PFF-Smart National Men’s club championships, which includes four regional qualifiers in Luzon, two in the Visayas and four in Mindanao.
James Ronan Palubio, team manager of the Azukals, on Tuesday said it is their honor and pride to be chosen by the Negros Oriental Football Association to represent Negros Oriental in one of two regional qualifiers in the Visayas, to be held October 4 to 6 at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City.
The Azukals will be pitted against teams from Negros Occidental, Iloilo and Capiz.
The regional qualifier champions will then advance to the top 10 brackets elimination and onwards to the championship game.
The FC Azukal is a newly organized football club of just about a year old with humble beginnings and has competed in various local tournaments.
Palubio said the Azukals are excited for the regional qualifiers but the team has to work double time as they acknowledge the tough competition they will be facing with the other regional qualifying teams.
The FC Azukal will be inviting at least three players outside of their club to join them in compliance with the requirement of the inter-club organizers to have players with a minimum age of 19 to promote the sport to the youth, he added.
The Azukals’ chaplain and is a member of the team as well, Fr. Christian Benjamin of the Diocese of Dumaguete, said playing football is part of his ministry in bringing God closer to the people.
He cited the brotherhood, trust and friendship developed among the Azukals that, while of different ages, have found a common ground which is their faith.
The team’s accomplishments are attributed to the Almighty, he added.
Fr. Benjamin also explains that he is inspired by Pope Francis’ challenge during this year’s World Youth Day celebration to the youth to be “athletes of Christ”.
Meanwhile, the Azukal Football Club is asking Governor Roel Degamo for financial assistance for their month-long training, uniforms and other expenses not covered by the event organizers.
Palubio said PFF-Smart will only pay for travel, meals and accommodation for the competing teams.
The Azukals are also requesting the governor to allow them free use of the Perdices Coliseum football field as practice venue in preparation for the regional qualifier tournament next month.