If I was in Cebu(my real home) now, I'd be training with Graeme MacKinnon's boys. He's the Australian coach who started the MLSDF. When I was in high school, I used to follow his M. Lhuillier team. They were unbeatable in Cebu in the 80's and eventually won the 1988 National League title. In the middle 90's however, the team disbanded for a couple of reasons... the players were getting old, other teams were catching up to their success and what topped it all was - the players became big-headed and disillusioned by the titles they won. That led Graeme and his captain, Mario Ceniza, to head a foundation which would teach football at the grassroots level.
I can still remember those 8 to 9-year old kids watching the senior games. As the games progressed, they were taught why the referees blew their whistles, why fouls were called, why that was a good play, why the other team lost, etc. In other words, they had first-hand knowledge of what a football game is all about at a very tender age. In their first few games, Graeme listed them to play against bigger and older opponents thus losing by as much as 15-0. That's a lot! But then through the years, they've never waivered on their aim... to be the best football team that Cebu have ever produced... and maybe in time, the Philippines.
Now, it's happening. Their time has come. The MLSDF Carmen team, with an average age of 15, is toppling the dominant football forces one by one. They sailed through the All-Visayas Under-16 Coke-Go-For-Goal title with ease. Disposing traditional football powers like Dumaguete, Ilo-ilo and Bacolod is no easy feat but they did it with great aplomb. That is why they'll be representing the core of the Visayas team for this year's National Coke-Go-For-Goal championship.
When I was in Cebu last December for the holidays, I hooked up with Graeme and practiced with them in Sabang, Danao. His players were awesome. At fourteen-fifteen years of age, they sure played more like seniors! Off the field, they don't relax either. Graeme introduced a boxer's training regimen as crosstraining! How are you gonna beat a football player whose feet is a light as a boxer's? How are you gonna tire a football player with an endurance and stamina like that of a boxer's? Very wild indeed!
So for this year's Coke-Go-For-Goal, I boldly predict the Visayas team to win it all. In any case, I will always root for the home team. Hehehehe!