It’s official, the province of Iloilo is now the new home of Kaya Futbol Club. The club’s chairman, co-owner, founder, general manager, and players met with members of Iloilo’s Provincial Capitol on Tuesday to attend the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement. The MOA, which was finalized at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol, states the footballing hotbed will now officially be represented by Kaya FC at the pinnacle of club football, the Philippines Football League.
“We’re really looking forward to bringing football to a new level. Iloilo has been known as the most football-crazed province in the whole of the Philippines,” said Kaya FC owner Santi Araneta. “We look forward to a grassroots program. We believe in Iloilo. We believe in its tourism. We believe in the government here. We’re very excited to move here and make this our home forever.”
The agreement, which also includes extensive plans to develop the young football talent in the region, was warmly received by the Iloilo government.
“We are excited to welcome Kaya Futbol Club to Iloilo. Thank you for choosing Iloilo as your new home. With your presence, the grassroots programs for football will strengthen and will boost the interest of young Ilonggo players,” said Iloilo Governor, Arthur Defensor Sr.
Kaya FC, which will change its name to Kaya FC–Iloilo, will hold its matches at the Iloilo Sports Complex, a venue that comfortably seats 7,000, and boasts a pristine natural grass surface. With construction of the new lockers still being finalized, the ISC is expected to begin holding PFL matches in the next two to three months.
“We’re actually very excited about the Iloilo Sports Complex. The pitch is beautiful. The actual layout of the grass, and of the field is really good. To host league games, I believe it’s very close. Once the locker rooms, which are brand new and also very nice looking, are ready, that’s as soon as we’re going to move in,” said Kaya FC General Manager, Paul Tolentino.
“It was quite surprising for us that in the first season of the Philippines Football League that the Province of Iloilo was not represented, being that this is really what is considered as the home of football in the Philippines. This is where a lot of the National Team players from the early, early days of football in the Philippines have come from, and throughout the decades,” he said. “We just felt that it was important, both for Kaya, and for Iloilo, that a partnership was formed, so that it could be represented in the professional football league in the Philippines in the best way possible.”
Iloilo natives Jovin Bedic and Shirmar Felongco, born in Barotac Nuevo and Calinog respectively, were thrilled with the agreement, especially with the prospect of playing in front of the football-mad fans of Iloilo.
“Syempre excited. Dream come true na makalaro kami dito. Magandang ma-expose sa mga bata ang professional football,” said Felongco.
“Super happy na nakabalik ako dito sa Iloilo, at ngayon dito na yung home field namin. Excited akong makita yung football crazed crowd dito sa Iloilo. Hopefully ma-appreciate kami ng mga tao sa football capital,” added Bedic.
Aly Borromeo, who was also present for the signing, echoed those sentiments as well.
“We’re excited to be here in Iloilo. I played here before with Jovin in 2007, for the Challenge Cup. At that time, the Azkals weren’t popular yet. But here, they really support football. Fans really understand the game, and they have passion. You can really feel it,” he said.
Co-founder of Kaya FC in 1996, Chris Hagedorn, was particularly thrilled by the massive potential of the new agreement.
“We have an opportunity to really grow the sport of football in a province that already loves the game. That’s already step one. There’s a real passion for the sport here. With the club’s efforts, the help of the fans, the schools, and the government, we can create something very special here. It needs to be a unified effort, but there’s massive potential,” he said.