|The poorly equipped Region 12 soccer team where some of its players' game shoes were wrapped with packaging tape to stop them from disintegrating.|
|The vaunted soccer team from Region 12 that is billeted at San Carlos City, Pangasinan. They are all system goes for the Palarong Pambansa. Extreme left, third row, is Coach Rommel Madis|
Most of these players come from M’lang town in Cotabato Province whose number one sports is football that has been played there with passion since time immemorial. A public school supervisor Celso “Mal-am” Tingzon said that whenever basketball and football are simultaneously played there the bulk of the spectators would troop to the soccer field and cheer for their respective teams. What made the players in the elementary and high school levels of Region 12 - who mostly hailed from M’lang - a cut from their counterparts in the national level? They come from the marginalized sector of society. “They are from the “Unwashed of the Society”. But their poverty did not stop them with their prowess,” according to Edwin Biag, the coach of M’lang Pilot Elementary School. “It did not discourage them to give their best despite they have to shell out through their parents pockets to buy their soccer shoes in Koronadal City ,” quipped by Rommel Madis, the coach of Mlang National High school. Mr. Bernard Vinluan, the principal of M’lang National High school, explained that his school fund called Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) could not afford to purchase the personal contraptions of the players. “I could only bankroll the equipments needed for the honing of my players,’ he stressed. Madis opined that the economic hardship that haunts his strikers did not stop them ever since to take a shot and won awards and plaudits at the national level competition like the Palarong Pambansa. “Some of my graduates play zealously now with the Army Team like Edward Gempesaw and the Air Force Team in the armed forces. Peter Jaugan has struts his stuffs with the Azkals Team before,” he added. Biag said that Madis face a dilemma after the former wards graduated in the primary level. “During the Palaro there are scouts from the universities in Manila looking for the best players in the elementary (level). They sweet talked and persuaded them and their parents for a full scholarship and board and lodging for the kickers to enroll at universities like Far Eastern University,” Biag said. Madis anxiously said his boys would be pitted in the Palaro with their former classmates in M’lang playing with FEU. Just like Iloilo Province in Region-6, and Cebu City in Region 7, FEU represents the National Capital Region in the Palaro. Three powerhouses that the Ilonggo speaking teams of Biag and Madis have to deal with. Earlier, the college team of Mlang called “Ayam (Ilonggo word for domestic dog like Azkals in Tagalog) under the stewardship of soccer connoisseur and coach Zenrad “Totit” Gepte, an instructor of Southern Baptist College in Mlang, chalked up the silver medal after it was humbled by Region 7 (Cebu) with a tight 3-2 score at the championship tilt of the 2012 Private Schools Athletic Association (PRISAA) National Collegiate Game in Cebu City. SBC used to produce the best players in Mlang from elementary, high school, and college levels. “That was before when we talked about the adroitness and dexterity of Rey Masuecos, Bimbo Solis, Ganfrey Pechayco, Gabriel Ortigoza, Arnel Bedua, and Tongak Bandiola,” Madis romantically waxed. “Pero wala na ina karon (They are already things of the past),” Madis continued in Ilonggo. He said presently the calls to excel are under his tutelage and of Madis, former proud soccer players of SBC, who both teach now at the public schools (Mortz C. Ortigoza).