THE Philippines Football League’s 2021 season will kick off with the Copa Paulino Alcantara on April subject to the government health and safety protocols.
The announcement was made during last Saturday’s virtual season kick-off featuring five of the six participating clubs.
The Copa Paulino Alcantara, which was not staged last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will allow clubs to ease in to the competition with several international tournaments also lined up for the year such as the AFC Champions League, AFC Cup, and the FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Following the success of the coronavirus-hit 2020 season, the five clubs expressed optimism on the restart of the league as it will allow them to gradually get in to fitness in once the league gets a green light to start.
“The earlier we can start (with competitive football), the better,” said United City FC chief executive officer Eric Gottschalk, whose club won the league championship last year.
Kaya general manager Paul Tolentino remains upbeat on the holding of the 2021 season.
“We’re all one here in wanting to play sooner rather than later,” said Tolentino, whose team ended up in second place in the league table last year. “The right setup must be agreed by all the stakeholders and having the Cup will allow us more preparation and active competition.”
The club managers also bared their plans for the season focusing on youth development and developing a sustainable program.
“We were very happy with how we performed last season,” said Maharlika Manila FC owner Anton del Rosario.
“For this upcoming season, we want to focus on building a foundation in order to have a sustainable team in the future.”
To further spark the growth of the league, the clubs have decided to conduct a joint tryout within the coming weeks. The joint tryouts will allow the teams to gather all aspiring players together and scout for fresh talent.
“Each coach will have an approach to see the players,” said Stallion Laguna FC coach Ernie Nierras. “It’s going to be a short window for the tryouts and we’re trying to show the fans and the players that we have the teams working together to make this league better.”