Fair Play: Leylam FC spreads goodwill in football

ANYONE who finds himself an employee of Leylam FC should thank his or her stars for being so lucky. Or, if you are the religious type, go to your church, offer a prayer of thanks or light a candle.

Why? Consider the group's latest project--Goal for Jacob--on Oct. 19 at the Don Bosco Technological Center. Jacob is the son of one of the employees of Leylam and the 20-month-old boy suffers from club foot.

He needs a P200,000 operation and that's a medical procedure that even those who have high positions would find very steep.

Enter the brothers Ugur and Cem Lasci, who aside from operating Leylam, also owns the Leylam Football Club.

Their solution? Hold a football tournament for a cause, something they've done twice in the past for the victims of the Oct. 15 earthquake in Bohol and the Nov. 8 super typhoon Yolanda.

The one-day tournament--which will have the men's and women's open--hopes to attract 16 to 20 teams. With a registration fee of P2,500 per team, that's P50,000 if they get 20 teams or P75,000 if they get 30 teams. That's awfully short of the P200,000 needed for the operation, which would be conducted at the Cebu Doctors' Hospital.

But, like I said, these two brothers are the rare kind and their employees should thank their lucky stars.

"Everything (registration fee) will go to the operation. The expenses will be shouldred by us, and whatever is lacking of the P200,000 will also be shouldered by us," Ugur told me during the coaches meeting last Wednesday.

Mind you, holding a tournament isn't cheap. Aside from paying for the venues, referees and the Cebu Football Association sanction fees, they also have to provide medals, trophies and meals for their support staff. Fortunately, the two brothers are getting support from some friends.

Helping out isn't something new for Leylam, as the club staged two charity events in the past, too. Looking out for their staff, too, isn't a strange concept for them, as this company has, in the past, required those who join inter-company tournaments to be regular employees.

"Because we want to encourage the companies to give players benefits, to remit (to SSS) what is needed," said Ugur (pronounced as “Ur.”)

Some of Ugur's employees, who are also football players, were in the meeting and one said the two are really kind-hearted.

Mga buotan kaayo sila,” said one, who shall remain unidentified lest he get a raise.

Perhaps, that explains the meteoric rise of the Leylam Football Club, which only started three years ago and this year, made it to the men's open finals of the Aboitiz Cup.

Ugur also shared a little secret. Helping out is something they have always done.

“In the past, we sent help directly to hospitals, though we just didn't talk about it in media,” he said.

And why is he helping? Two reasons.

“This is for the Cebu football community, to show how we can be responsible. Leylam also started here and right now, we are all over the country. It's one way of giving back our success.”

This is not the first for the Cebu football community, there are clubs like Queen City who shoulder costly operations for their players, and the BPO community, which has staged three charity events in the past years.

Like I said, the Leylam employees, and Cebu football too, is lucky to have the Tasci brothers here.

P.S. Ur, who like his amiable brother almost always wears a smile, mistook me for Noel S. Villaflor for almost two days, and was calling me by the other football columnist's name for almost two hours in the meeting.

“Why didn't you correct me?” he said when somebody did finally correct him.

“Because it was fun,” I said. And I was looking forward to that time when Noel and him finally meet. What a ruckus it would be if Ugur found out then...


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