Villaflor: Where on Earth is Chieffy Caligdong?

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Thursday, April 3, 2014


YOU can’t put a good football player down.

When veteran Azkal Emilio “Chieffy” Caligdong suffered a fractured right foot in mid-February this year, the injury kept him from playing under new national team coach Thomas Dooley.

While he’s been itching to don the national colors anew, Chieffy said he’s been following his rehab routine to the letter.

“If not, my doctor would get mad,” Chieffy said in jest, as he addressed questions in yesterday’s press conference for the 3rd BRO Nationals Football Cup and Festival 2014.

The event, which kicks off on April 7, is held in partnership with Globe Telecom’s grassroots program “Chieffy Caligdong Football Para Sa Bayan,” in which he serves as the firm’s sports ambassador.

Apart from the grassroots program, the diminutive Azkal is busy setting up the “Chieffy Caligdong Football Academy,” which will hold school-based summer clinics in several areas in South Luzon, such as in Lipa, Batangas and Calamba, Laguna this April.

And there’s even better news: Chieffy is bringing his academy all the way down south, including Cagayan de Oro, and of course, Cebu.

Chieffy talked to BRO National organizers Rodney Orale and coach Glenn Ramos to set up the academy in Cebu and partner with Don Bosco. They plan to start the program when new school year begins.

“I’ll train the kids together with coach Glenn,” Chieffy said. “We’re focused on the elite program, starting with the 13 year olds, so by the time they’re 15, they can compete at a higher performance level. We will give them special training.”

The program, which is open to boys and girls, will give these young footballers a real shot at the big leagues, such as the United Football League (UFL), where he plays wearing the Green Archers United jersey.

“We’re here to support kids who have potential,” Chieffy added.

It seems that with two eponymous initiatives, Chieffy now has his hands full, all this despite the foot injury that forced him out of the remaining club matches and Azkals friendlies.

Chieffy hopes his foot heals in time for the Challenge Cup this May, so he can make his long-awaited return to the national team under head coach Dooley.

Asked what he thinks of Dooley’s system, the mercurial left winger with a knack for scoring goals says, “I like his attacking style.”

(nsvillaflor@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 04, 2014.

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