One of the great rivalries Cebu football has seen in recent years is the one between Leylam and Erco Bro FC.
Owned by Ugur Tasci and Rodney Orale, the rivalry dominated the local men’s circuit for years, with the two meeting in the men’s open finals, not only of the weekend tournaments, but of the Aboitiz Men’s Open itself.
Expenses weren’t spared. Leylam, bannered by a slew of talented Africans, would face an Erco team that would sometimes be reinforced by a who’s who of Philippine football—Ian Araneta, Chieffy Caligdong and Darren Hartmann.
The matches would be very close, too. I remember in one final, a late foul that led to a Rafi Lipardo free kick in extra time secured Leylam’s victory over Bro. Hartmann was incensed and moments after the final whistle, I heard him complaining to the ref, telling him that in moments such as that, he should have let the players decide it.
The rivalry between the two have defined Cebu football. If I remember it right, after Erco won the Aboitiz title in 2014, Leylam has won the finals in their next four encounters and if not for the Covid-19 pandemic, the two would have faced off for the 2019-2020 season crown.
But when it comes to supporting Cebu football, these two rivals have teamed up for one of the greatest things that happened to the local community—the Cebu Football Club.
You see, in the previous months, Tasci has been closely coordinating with Orale, the president of the Central Visayas Regional Football Association (CVFA), as he worked on his dream of putting Cebu in the local domestic scene.
“I thank Engr. Orale and the rest of the CVFA for this name. I worked with them closely and I appreciate their full support in this endeavor,” said Tasci.
Orale, who before the pandemic, has worked hard to spread CVFA’s presence beyond Cebu Island, also assured Tasci that they will support the club, saying its presence will raise the bar in local football.
“This only shows that our local football community here in the Visayas region, particularly in the Cebu and Bohol provinces, continues to be dynamic and consistent in their efforts towards the development of football! Surely such a feat will have an inspiring impact for players, coaches, fans and other stakeholders,” said Orale.
“As your CVFA chairman, I humbly say that I have expressly given my all out support on the club’s desire to raise the bar of dynamism and in providing a platform in pursuing excellence in playing football for all our aspiring players!”
Once rivals, now partners in promoting not only the club but Cebu football as a whole.