Where To, UFL?
by Peewee Ruiz
As my good friend told me last Saturday, Meralco winning the PFF-SMART Championsip bodes well for the local league. It means the other top two teams, Ceres-La Salle and Global, are out to get some revenge and at the same time try to avoid the Younghusband-led team to a sweep of the trophies available this year.
Interesting plot to start the season, right? Indeed! But the question now is that, the United Football League Philippines (UFL) is relatively quiet about what its plans or schedules are of this year's competition. I've heard from my friends in the league that games are to start this Saturday (7 Feb). That's 5 days from now and yet if you look at the league's official website or even at their Twitter and Facebook accounts, there is not a single information or announcement about the upcoming games. Many people who are monitoring the scene are asking, "May UFL games pa ba? Kelan ang simula? Sino na na ang mga players ng bawat team?"
It's been 4 or 5 years that the league can be considered already in the mainstream but in that span of time, we haven't seen any improvement at all. Leadership changed, venues changed, players and coaches have come and gone, but one thing has remained constant - the league's lack of sense of preparation and lack of forward thinking. It's like there were no lessons learned from all the problems and issues they have faced in the past few seasons.
Where can you see a supposedly professional or semi-professional league that doesn't have an announced official schedule less than a week before competition begins? Where can you see a league that as of Friday (30 January), the league officials were still working on the nitty-gritty because line-ups were supposedly just submitted the night earlier?
We thought that 2014 was supposed to be Philippine football's year but we were too unlucky to have settled for a few bridesmaid finishes. With the Azkals not bringing home any silverware, from a personal standpoint, the UFL has a big stake into how football will thrive in this country in 2015 and in the coming years. The local league needs to continue to make people know about the presence of the sport. The interest in the sport is starting to wane, with attendance in actual games so small (except probably for a Finals game or if there is a very important Azkal match.).
The UFL needs to start operating like a corporation, with an effective sales and marketing arm, as well as a very good communications and public relations unit. We are trying to sell a product here and we cannot just sit down and expect people (especially women) to patronize it just because of the players' good looks and well-carved bodies. We need to start planning at least a year before and implement such plans months before, and not with only a few days to spare.
We want the UFL to flourish. We want the local football scene to continue to grow. But for that to happen, for common fans and supporters like me to see that happening, we need the powers-that-be in the UFL to get their acts together and work as a team. Work with the very simple objective which is to make football stay here for good.
*Peewee Ruiz is an ardent supporter of Philippine football and only wishes the best for the sport in the country.