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Saturday, July 13, 2024

New year, new perspectives

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There are some reports claiming that one of the country’s football icons is finally hanging his cleats for good. Heard also that he is now focusing his sights on helping promising, young and future members of the Philippine Azkals in another capacity, but more on the full-time side if given the opportunity and the confidence of the new leadership of the Philippine Football Federation.

The Designated Kit Man also came up with some news from sources pointing to a new direction for this soon to be former Azkal. When directly asked, this football great neither confirmed nor denied the rumors. Instead, he parried the questions and pointed to two persons, who can shed more light on what he might eventually do in the coming weeks. Also heard that he asked the blessing of another football icon and a great father figure to him regarding his plans.

Which is not actually surprising because he had done his dues, he doesn’t need to prove anything anymore and his legacy to the national team is already secured many times over. Personally, his move, if it pushes through, will do more good and will definitely help Philippine football in the long run.

Whatever he might eventually pursue in the coming days or whether the claims are indeed true, I just wish this friend all the best of luck in the world on his (forthcoming) adventure. If it pans out, it will greatly help and inspire the next wave of future members of the men’s national football team.

Speaking of a new wave of upcoming players, fans will definitely be given a glimpse of the country’s chess future in the ongoing 2023/2024 Philippine National Open Chess Championships at the Marikina Community Convention Center. The tournament, more popularly known as “The Battle of Grandmasters,” started last Wednesday and will run until Jan. 7. It features the country’s top chess players such as GM Joey Antonio, GM John Paul Gomez, GM Darwin Laylo and WGM Janelle Mae Frayna.

Youngsters such as IM Paulo Bersamina and IM Daniel Quizon are also in the mix to contend for top honors, and of course, those precious norms that they need for them to join the country’s elite GM circle. Not to be discounted too are WIM Marie Antoinette San Diego; IMs Jan Emmanuel Garcia and Barlo Nadera; FIDE Masters Mark Jay Bacojo and Christian Gian Carlo Arca, also the 2023 World Youth Chess Championship Blitz winner; NMs Vince Angelo Medina and John Jerish Velarde; and Sam Chiu Chin Lim.

Aside from the usual cash prize, there are several other reasons to motivate the GMs, IMs, FIDE Masters and qualifiers to give their all.

The champion will earn the right to represent the country in the 2024 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in late February in Bangkok, Thailand.

The top three finishers will also form the core of the national team that will compete in the 2024 Chess Olympiad in Budapest, Hungary from Sept. 10-24, 2024. Incidentally, the 45th Chess Olympiad will also mark the 100th year anniversary of the founding of the Federation Internationale des Echecs or FIDE, the world chess governing body.

Right off the bat, WGM Frayna shocked top seed GM Laylo in the opening round. The country’s first and only woman grandmaster took the full point in 47 moves of Queen’s Gambit Declined. Frayna went on the offensive to force Laylo to resign. Also registering opening round wins include IM Quizon, FM Bacojo and IM Garcia. The rest of the matches ended in draws.

The event is organized by the National Chess Federation of the Philippine under the leadership of Cong. Butch Pichay and GM Jayson Gonzales with support coming from the Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, the Eugene Torre Chess Foundation, Marikina Rep. Maan Teodoro, Marikina Mayor Marcy Teodoro and many more.

On a personal note, I would like to thank our big boss, Rollie Estabillo, Managing Editor Joyce Panares, my Sports Editor Riera Mallari and Randy Caluag for the support, patience and faith as The Designated Kit Man marked its second year this last week of December. Here’s hoping for more years with Manila Standard and looking forward to 2024 without the baggage literally or imagined, the toxicity and all the things that keep us stuck, unmoving and not giving a damn.

Wishing also my favorite team, the Philippine Azkals, to have a better 2024 and hoping that they can assemble a stronger squad against Iraq when the qualifiers resume in March. A pair of strikers will definitely help the team be more competitive and dangerous.

Happy New Year!

Stay safe. Stay happy peeps!

For comments or questions, you can reach The Designated Kit Man at or follow his account at Twitter: @erelcabatbat


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