4. Billed as a semi-professional league, the UFL has to act more professionally
The minimum requirement for any country’s premier football league is to have a fixed game schedule, and to stick with it. Of course, in a tropical country such as ours, typhoons and flooding can cause games to be suspended and re-scheduled. Based on recent history of game postponements and re-schedules, however, you would think that Manila was hit by storms every week in the summer season.
With the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup in the horizon, it is good that Azkals coach Hans Michael Weiss and Philippine Football Federation technical director Aris Caslib has sat down with the UFL to thresh out potential conflicts of schedule between the Azkals and the UFL. It is also good that all clubs have agreed that only teams with Azkals members would be allowed (if at all) to reschedule matches. Prior to that arrangement, teams with Under-19, Under-22 and Futsal players, taking the cue from teams with Azkals players, also requested for matches to be rescheduled.
Rescheduling of games at a drop of the hat gives off the impression that the league, supposed to be the country’s premier league, may be no more than a local neighborhood league run by a group of friends. More integrity should be given to the match schedule. Hardcore basketball fans have been known to block off dates when their favorite teams are scheduled to play. It is certainly difficult, if not impossible, for even the casual football fans to do the same given the UFL’s ever-changing schedule.
We certainly would not want to believe whispers that politics is rearing its ugly head in the issue of match rescheduling. Perhaps this writer chooses not to do so.
Players, for one, bear the brunt of these oftentimes farcical last minute changes in game days. The day before game days are usually reserved for light training. Woe to the team that finds out after the light session on the field that their game tomorrow has been postponed for 24 more hours.
Last-minute switching of venues are also sources of exasperation amongst the clubs as well. Rizal Memorial Football Stadium, University of Makati football field and Turf BGC are similar only in that their playing surface is (somewhat) green. One only needs to step onto each field to know that team tactics vary with every pitch.
Similarly, would it be too much to ask the PFF to avoid going on “traveling roadshows” abroad in the middle of the season for a training camp? The three-week break from end February to end March in all probability cost Stallion the title; the team lost its momentum completely after the break.
Another break, as the season neared the finish line, resulted in Loyola having to play their last four games in 11 days. The delay was also brought about by their involvement in the 2012 RHB Singapore Cup, but you have to wonder if the Sparks could’ve done better had they been given more time in between games.
The UFL is billed as the premier league in the Philippines. With the growing popularity of football in the country, it is high time that the league is run like one as well.