Limpag: For media and the PFF

Fair Play

IT WAS just an innocent job posting by the Philippine Football Federation, but the implications were stunning. A few days ago, the PFF, now under the leadership of John Gutierrez posted a job ad, looking for, among other positions, a marketing officer and a media officer.

My first thought was that they needed additional personnel, and it never crossed my mind that the present ones were going to leave.

A few minutes after the job ad was posted, Cedelf Tupas, the former Inquirer ace reporter who joined the PFF, announced in the group chat for the football beat that he was leaving the national sports association. Mikhail de Guzman also announced that he was leaving the PFF effective March 31.

I’ve known Cedelf for close to two decades now, and we were both regulars in the online forum that came up with the nickname Azkals back in 2005. It was a small and vibrant community and I remember we’d regularly meet at a sports bar after every game during the 2005 Southeast Asian Games.

Then the sports editor of the Visayan Daily Star, Cedelf gambled his savings to watch the Azkals play in the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Championships in Thailand, where the Philippines had a disastrous start, losing Aly Borromeo in their debut against Malaysia, 4-0.

The Philippines got on the wrong end of a 4-0 rout in its next game, but it was against Myanmar that the team showed its character. Myanmar only needed a win to advance to the semifinals and was already looking past a downtrodden Philippine squad.

In a match that was only seen by a handful, including Cedelf, the Philippines held Myanmar to a 0-0 draw, a match that had then writer of the AFF website singing platitudes.

On the other hand, I first met Mikhail during the first post-match party of the Azkals that I attended. I think it was during the Kuwait game. He was a writer for a website, one of only a handful who knew what they were writing about.

“Website lang kami,” he once told me. I remember replying, “You know more about football than what the mainstream writers know combined.”

I think that gave him a confidence boost because the next thing I knew, he was already with the PFF.

The stint of Cedelf and Mikhail in the PFF ends this month. I hope the two well in their chosen paths.

The two oversaw a period when football became a mainstream sport, and the establishment of a football beat meant fans no longer had to rely on obscure websites for updates.

Cedelf, too, became the face of Philippine football as he became the regular TV guest of sports programs that tackled football, something which seemed impossible pre-2010.

Though the two are leaving, I’m confident that whoever replaces them can continue what the two started because of the relationship they have built between the media and the PFF.

The relationship they built is sometimes too cordial for my comfort, but that’s just me. That’s how successful the two were.


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