In the late 1980s, one evening a week, players of all ages and from different backgrounds would get together on a basketball court for some indoor football. Their enjoyment of the weekly games grew, and the players’ skills improved rapidly. They began to join outdoor seven-a-side football tournaments, playing against different teams. The Kaya team members often found themselves on the winner’s podium, receiving medals and trophies.
A few years and multiple awards later, they realized that many of their teammates were some of the best in the country and that the team needed to lay the foundation for something bigger. The name Kaya Football Club was then made official in July of 1996, and the beginning of Kaya’s leadership on and off the field for football in Metro Manila and the Philippines became more prominent.
In the late 1990s, Kaya FC participated in official and more challenging eleven-a-side football tournaments organized by the National Capital Region Football Association. The team came to be recognized as one of the only clubs capable of defeating the so-called big three, which consisted of the Philippine Army, Philippine Air Force, and Philippine Navy football clubs.
Between 2000 and 2009, Kaya FC defeated the armed forces teams in two separate championships and was the champion of the United Football League (UFL) on three occasions. In 2009, the UFL became the LBC-UFL and invited the armed forces clubs to join the league, though Kaya FC later became the champions.
In 2010, motivated by the growing success of Philippine football, Kaya FC established Kaya FC Academy in hopes of promoting the sport to all, both boys and girls, of all ages and abilities, through its wide range of programs. The academy now has over 800 registrants and even offers scholarships to promising young footballers.
In 2015, after winning the 2015 UFL Cup, Kaya FC celebrated its first major success after six years, when the club qualified for the 2016 AFC Cup, an annual international association football competition between domestic clubs organized by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). During the AFC Cup campaign, the club won two back-to-back AFC Cup home games at Rizal Memorial Stadium, which meant Kaya had become the first Philippine club to top a group in Asia and win two consecutive games at home. The club reached the round of 16 but succumbed to defending AFC Cup champions Johor Darul Ta’zim FC (JDT).
In January 2017, the club announced its participation in the Philippines Football League (PFL) as Kaya FC–Makati, with home games being played at the University of Makati (UMak). Kaya’s new home is a reminder of where everything started, and now the club is ready to make history again.
With the success of Kaya over the past few years, a number of current and former Kaya FC players, such as Aly Borromeo, Chris Greatwich, Anton del Rosario, Eddie Mallari, Lexton Moy, Nate Burkey, OJ Porter, Jason Sabio, Junior Muñoz, and Kenshiro Daniels, represented the Philippines in international tournaments. Today, Kaya players continue to be called up to play for the Philippine men’s national football team.