MIMAROPA looks forward to football title defense

MANILA, Philippines – Palarong Pambansa 2013 was the most memorable event for the MIMAROPA football delegates as both the elementary and secondary teams bagged championship gold.

Coach Joseph Gerard Malaya, former elementary coach and now secondary coach, said their strategy was to carefully observe the play of each competing team to know their strengths and weaknesses and then maintain their focus during the game.

“Paisa-isa lang yung laro kumbaga focus lang. Pinag-aaralan din namin ang laro ng bawat team… doon based ang mga plano namin," Coach Joseph explained.

(We focused on every game we played. We also studied the play of each team... that's how we plan for each game).

MIMAROPA had to go through a tightly contested match against Cotabato region before entering the finals. The game was so close it had to be decided in a penalty shootout.

The championship round was just as intense. MIMAROPA's goalkeeper made the game-winning save in another penalty shootout to lift Region IV-B to a 5-4 (penalties) win capping their fairytale championship run.

Preparations for the Palaro 2014

According to Coach Malaya, their training always starts at 4:30 am and ends at 7:00 am inside the University of the Philippines Los Baños grounds. They avoid too much exposure to the sun after losing players even before the start of the event. Four members of the team had to beg off from competition due to high fever and training injuries.

“Ang problema talaga namin ay yung matinding init habang training pero over-all maganda naman ang takbo ng practice.”

(Our real problem is the intense heat during trainings but, overall, the course of the practice goes well)

Fidel Machon, full back at the elementary team, said the key to their success is following the coach's game plan.

MIMAROPA sees the ARMM and Central Visayas as their toughest challengers.

The team wants to defend their title but Malaya is not putting that pressure on them. He believes the pressure would do more harm than good. Malaya said the important thing is that the team enjoys playing.

Their win last year serves as their motivation to push hard during their trainings. Can the MIMAROPA football teams defend their title?

Asked what his message is to the opposing teams, Malaya said, “Good luck sa mga kalaban…” (Good luck to them) – with reports from Christine Mae Santos/Rappler.com