Saturday, September 14, 2013

Fair Play: Val Calvo: From Don Bosco to PH U19

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu on Sept. 11)
WHEN the page admin posted a photo of the starting lineup of the Philippines U19 team in the fan page someone commented that the guy wearing the No. 8 jersey looked foreign.

And who’s the No. 8 of the national U19? Val Calvo, who learned his football under the vaunted Don Bosco system.

Since leaving Don Bosco, this Cebuano teen is slowly carving his name in the national football scene, first as a member of Ateneo de Manila University and finally as a member of the national team. After helping Ateneo beat UP in the UAAP, Calvo got his turn to suit up for the national team in the Kanga Cup and boy did he make his mark.

The Kanga Cup was part of the Philippine U19’s preparation for the AFF U19 championships and also became one of the best achievements of a youth team in a tournament abroad. After sweeping their elimination round matches, the team made the finals against Capitol FC and Calvo scored the lone goal--his fifth--for the 1-0 win.

His stint in the Kanga Cup impressed the coaching staff, who said they didn’t expect the Cebuano to have such an impact.

Noel Mercaida, an assistant coach in the team, told that “We didn’t expect Calvo to perform because he had only been with the team for a short while.”

But I know one coach who isn’t surprised—Glenn Ramos—who is also a member of the coaching staff in the Kanga Cup and Calvo’s former coach at Don Bosco.

Now, Calvo’s starting for the national team in the AFF U19 championships, where they lost a tough one to Laos, 3-1, in their debut a couple of days ago.

Aside from Calvo, four other young Cebuanos are abroad for national team duties.

DBTC’s Josh Rupert Asignar, Tristan Karl Enad, Yuan Josemari Reña and Charles Unabia are with the Philippine 11-Under team for a three-week educational and training camp in the UK, along with coach Dave Gerali.

This U11 team is in for a long ride as this squad is being groomed for the U17 World Cup in 2019 and this early start should bode well for the team.

MALDITAS ON A RAMPAGE. It’s a busy time for Philippine football as the Malditas—the women’s team—is also seeing action in the AFF Women’s Championship, opening their campaign with a 6-0 rout of Indonesia.

The only bad thing about that win is that, again, the game wasn’t televised and I think women’s football—especially in the provinces--would get a huge boost if the women’s national team’s matches gets aired live.

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