COACH Ernie Nierras is one of the most vocal supporters of Philippine football and has been supporting the sport for decades. I first knew him in an online forum where the Azkals’ name was coined over 13 years ago and he has always been one not to mince words.
Now the owner and coach of Stallions Laguna and also the manager of the Malditas, coach Ernie shared his thoughts on the folding up of Meralco, offering a contrary view to the prevailing idea that Meralco’s closure heralds the end of the PFL.
“The loss of Meralco created talent consolidation and market correction in our league,” he wrote on his social media page.
For the coach, Meralco’s closing shop could even lead to the creation of a second division in a league, something that will benefit Philippine football and players just not good enough yet to crack the first division. The dispersal of the talented Meralco players to the other PFL clubs could also balance the talent disparity in the seven remaining clubs, who’ve seen some of their top players bolt for abroad due to the Asean rule requiring clubs in the region to get one heritage player as an import.
“Indirectly, it will also help the UAAP and NCAA teams (and Cesafi too, if I may add coach). Maube some of the college players will decide to extend their college careers instead of going for the PFL immediately? In turn, these players will get the valued playing time which will help develop their game.”
I admit, before coach Ernie shared his views, I, like the rest, see a PFL is dying sign. However, my hope to see the league grow is bolstered by his words. Curiously, on the same day, the PFL posted job openings for marketing, competitions, media relations and the like. While some may see that as the league losing personnel, I see it as the PFL addressing key concerns.
Coach Ernie also addressed Kaya’s move to Iloilo and we share the same view. It’s good for the club and for Iloilo football, which has the most knowledgeable fans in the country due to its long history with the sport.
The Ultras Kayas, which sometimes annoy the rest of the fans with their attitude, will continue to support the club no matter its location and coach Ernie also think Kaya’s departure from Makati will give the LGU the chance and time to repair the Umak field and might even lead to a club replacing Kaya.
What the club needs are more supporters—Ultras or not—and people who fill the stands and proudly support their teams no matter what. And he has this message to all fans. “The club owners are investing millions to put our money where our mouth is. We are not all talk...We are investing in the future of Philippine football. We need your help to make this a reality... We need your passion as well as financial support….watch the second season of the PFL. Fill the stands...support your club sponsors as well.”
He’s right. Let’s get on with the program.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on January 15, 2018.
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