San Lazaro Leisure Park plays host to Ateneo – De La Salle alumni football tournament

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The Eternal Rivalry has found a new home, at least when it comes to football.

Last Sunday, March 4, The Duel : Ateneo vs De La Salle, the annual age-group alumni football contest between the traditional rival schools had its first leg in Carmona, Cavite. The venue was the PFF Artificial Football Field inside the San Lazaro Leisure and Business Park.

The Duel, now on its third year, has four age groups for men, (21-30, 31-39, 40-47, and 48 and over), plus a women’s division with no age limits. In each age group two 80-minute matches are played in two separate matchdays, with the school amassing the most points over the two matches in each division declared the winner of that age group.

In the past two years it has been home-and-away, with Ateneo hosting one match and DLSU the other. While the second match day on March 11 will indeed be played in Katipunan, the DLSU home match was brought to San Lazaro Leisure Park. And what a party it turned out to be.

Chantilly, the restaurant of the Manila Jockey Club, catered the event with a bevy of food and drink choices, including a grill station with plenty of delicious meats on offer. Large tents were set up for both squads, with expansive views of the pitch on top of the three-tiered seating area.

All the players were able to use the well-maintained men’s and ladies locker rooms that were just a stone’s throw away from the field.

Last Sunday a great time was had by all, especially the Green Archers, who swept all of the men’s divisions. The day began at 8:00 am with the Over 48s on the green side 3-1, thanks to two goals from Nich Severino and another from Enrico Marasigan. The 40-47 game went the way of Taft as well, 5-2 with a pair of strikes by Marco Nieto. In the next game, the 31-39, De La Salle triumphed 3-0 thanks to a brace from Louie Villegas. The 21-30 game, played at 11:30, saw the La Sallians continue their mastery with a 3-0 win. Jiggs Cruz, Pat Laluces, and Greggy Yang got on the scoresheet.

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The blue side salvaged a measure of pride in the ladies game, which ended in a 1-1 draw thanks to goals by Isabel Montelibano and Aina Martin.

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The games were broadcast live on Gametime TV channel 109 on Cignal TV, as well as on YouTube. This was the first time the Duel has been on television. Visit the SLBN Production Entertainment Official YouTube page to watch the games in case you missed the broadcast.

The heat was an issue for all the players but the cool breeze that is a constant feature of the PFF Artificial Football Field helped lessen the effects of the summer weather.

Rely San Agustin, the Atenean who founded and runs the Duel, was enthusiastic in his praise for the venue.

“It was a perfect setting for this kind of tournament. The beautiful pitch, food and drinks available the whole time, gracious host, and not to mention, matches live streamed and broadcast. So far this has got to be the best Ateneo-La Salle DUEL experience to date. We look forward to having it here again.”

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One veteran La Salle football player, Tonichi Caballero, was effusive in his praise of the event in SLLP on a Facebook post.

Our host, the amiable Eduardo Ramirez de Arellano, who spared no effort in making us all “feel at home” and welcome even provided TV coverage to boot! To think we did not ask nor did we even know we would get this. Who would have thought that a simple and humble event such as The Duel could ever get TV coverage and internationally at that. On those notes alone, how can we not consider this venue as the permanent home for THE DUEL? It’s clean, safe, has limitless parking, great facilities, excellent food that never ran out or fell short of expectations plus, the weather couldn’t have been better! A hot tub, jacuzzi or pool would have made it heaven on earth, but I’m not complaining!”

You can read his whole post here. https://www.facebook.com/toncab/posts/10154981694356991

Players raved about the perfect synthetic pitch. Inaugurated last year, the field was funded by FIFA and features a surface with a 2-star rating, meaning high-level senior competitions can be played on it. The playing area measures 105m by 68m, the preferred dimensions of the game’s governing body.

Soon lighting towers will be added to the facility to allow nighttime play.

Already the facility has hosted matches of the Ang Liga collegiate preseason tournament, the PFF Women’s League, and even one match of the Philippines Football League, the highest level of men’s football in the country.

Currently one PFL club, Davao Aguilas, is conducting its regular training sessions in the artificial field.

Apart from the artificial field, San Lazaro also boasts of a grass area within the horse racetrack that can accommodate two full-size natural grass football fields. The Manila Jockey Club regularly hosts the Copa San Lazaro football festival for young footballers.

Eduardo Ramirez De Arellano, MJC Vice President who also played football for De La Salle, was pleased with the turnout of alumni athletes from both schools.

This has been our goal since we started venturing into field sports. We envision the San Lazaro Leisure Park as a venue to meet good people, with great food and services, playing the beautiful game that we are all so passionate about. The camaraderie that was present during the games and throughout the day was a pleasant sight. It was truly nice to see arch-rivals share the field again and fill the stands laughter and nostalgic memories from their peak playing days. The Manila Jockey Club is very happy to host such an event and hope to bring in more these events to the football community and all other field sports. We want all field sports enthusiasts to know that there is such a field of dreams here in SLLP.”

The San Lazaro Leisure Park is opening its fields for rent for football, frisbee, American football, or rugby teams and leagues. Contact Jeng Arrazola at 09167766377 or Mikki Cardenas at 09178829312, 02-687-9889 loc 410, 02-843-5561 loc 106 to book today.

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