This season’s emerging United Football League (UFL) frontrunner, the Loyola Meralco Sparks Futbol Club, proved that they can hold their own alongside seasoned heavyweights in the Asian football arena. After topping the first division of the current UFL season, the Sparks were invited by the Football Association of Singapore to compete in the RHB Singapore Cup 2012. The Sparks is the first and only UFL club participating in the tournament. One with Filipinos in supporting the country’s bet for the RHB Singapore Cup, Cebu Pacific provided the team roundtrip tickets to Singapore for their opening match against Geylang United FC. The Loyola Meralco Sparks Futbol Club triumphed against the five-time champions with a 2-1 victory.
Held annually, the RHB Singapore Cup is one of the most prestigious football tournaments in Asia. Aside from Singapore teams, the tournament also welcomes football clubs from countries such as Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. “It’s history in the making,” remarks co-captain and midfielder James Younghusband. “It’s the first time a team from the Philippines is competing so we’re very thankful for this opportunity.” Stepping up to the plate, the Sparks underwent intense preparation to increase their odds of success against Singapore’s Geylang United FC. “We train four times a week doing different exercises,” shares co-captain and defender Pat Ozaeta. “Apart from the physical exercises, our routine also involved mental exercises because we have to learn various tactics as well.” Hard work and determination surely paid off during the first round of their much-anticipated Cup debut, enabling them to advance to the next round, this time playing against Myanmar’s Kanbawza FC in July.
Gaining momentum in the past few years, football has rapidly evolved from an underrated sport to one of the country’s most popular national pastimes. “Football has taken the Philippines by storm and Cebu Pacific wants to do its part in promoting the sport,” says Candace Iyog, Cebu Pacific VP for Marketing. “This partnership with the Loyola Meralco Sparks is especially meaningful in that we are helping a talented team represent the Philippines on the international stage.” Cebu Pacific continues to uphold Filipino pride as they help the Sparks ascend to world-class triumphs. With the largest network of ASEAN destinations served, Cebu Pacific ensures that the team is able to fly in and out of the country as they raise the Philippine flag with every future championship.