Biantan: Time for SMC to help footie

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By Jack Biantan

Big Jack

Friday, February 18, 2011

LONDON -- San Miguel Corporation (SMC) is the Philippine’s biggest conglomerate. The richest company in the country has interests and investments in food and drinks industry, transport industry and many more multi billion peso firms.
Unfortunately however, the company made famous by San Miguel Beer have zero investments in the sports we call the beautiful game.

Now, it maintains four teams in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). The company owns B-Meg (Purefoods), Powerade (Coca Cola), Ginebra San Miguel and San Miguel Beer.

How much money does it spend for one team only? Millions, of course. For four teams? More millions.


It would be great if only SMC could use the budget of one of its teams for football. Great for the fans and good for football development.

San Miguel Corp. used to be a football supporter in the 70's and the 80's when the Sorianos controlled the company. It had a team in the National Capital Region senior tournament which was coached by the now retired Juan Cutillas.

Long time Cebu based coach Graeme Mackinnon used to play for Cutillas and San Miguel. Mackinnon went on to coach the M. Lhuillier football team and married a Cebuana. He is now back in Australia and is semi-retired from football but remains as a strong supporter of the Philippine Azkals.

The National Men's Football Championships used to be named after Don Andres Soriano, one of the founding members of SMC and whose family used to own majority of SMC's shares.

San Miguel even supported the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) football development program by putting up the Coke Go-For-Goal U-16 national competitions.
Lots of senior players playing for the Azkals like Eduardo Sacapano, Kim Relucio, Roel Gener, Chieffy Caligdong and Yanti Bersales are all products of the Coke Go-For Goal program.

Everything, however, changed when Danding Cojuangco took over the controls of SMC. The basketball loving Cojuangco changed the priorities of the company and football has been kicked out to the sidelines and out of SMC's coffers.

The Philippine sports scene has suddenly changed since December last year and football has become a toast of the country because of the efforts of the good looking, strong hearted and talented Philippine Azkals.

The Azkals have instantly become celebrities. They have become in demand and everyone wants a piece of them after they made it to the semis of the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup, crushing defending champion Vietnam, 2-0 in the elims.

They lost to the Indonesians in the semis but went home as heroes, greeted and mobbed by shrieking young girls and treated like rock stars. They began the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) campaign in a high note with a 2-0 thrashing of Mongolia last Feb. 9.

Since then, support from sponsors has poured in. Manny V. Pangalinan has promised millions through his Smart company. He has even promised to support a football league where his other companies like Maynilad, Meralco, PLDT and Cignal can sponsor teams.

Charlie Cojuanco the president of the Negros Football Association (NOFA), is the son of Danding. He also loves football; that is the reason why he leads NOFA.

Charlie also has a team in the United Football League (UFL), Union FC. He spends his personal money in bankrolling the team. I doubt if Charlie is involved with San Miguel Corp.

Since Charlie has declared his support for football few years ago, SMC has not lifted a finger or has not spent a single cent for the sport.

Why doesn’t SMC join the bandwagon? It is about time for the company to rethink its sports program. It can sell one of its PBA teams and share the profits and the budget to football.

SMC bigwigs do not have to wait for Charlie to beg for money. They do not have to wait for their patron Saint Michael the Archangel to get down from heaven and wake them up from their deep slumber.

Start breaking the bank now and invest in football. The millions of our countrymen who had just recently been bitten by the Azkals bug would rejoice. GOD BLESS

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on February 18, 2011.


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