Ex-Azkal Dorlas focuses on U16 squad’s development

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Former Philippine Azkals stalwart Roxy Dorlas relishes the opportunity to lead the Under-16 national football team for the first time in his young coaching career.

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The 30-year old Dorlas’pro career as a player was put to a halt by a nagging hip injury.

“How I wish. Even if I only have a very small chance of playing on the field, I’ll play,” Dorlas told The Manila Times in an interview.

The Dutch-Filipino started with San Beda College and Mendiola FC before becoming a member of the Loyola Meralco Sparks FC (now FC Meralco Manila) for five years. He quit after a one-year stay in Global FC, because he was already forcing himself through injury.

Roxy Dorlas PHOTO COURTESY OF ONE MERALCO SPORTS

“I don’t want to be on the field playing with less than a hundred percent. So, I took the initiative to end my career early and focus instead on developing the next generation of Azkals,” he said.

With the recommendation of his seasoned mentor Aris Caslib, Dorlas was tapped to coach the U-16 national squad, which is bound to compete in Group H of the Asian Football Confederation U-16 Championship 2018 qualifying stage.

It was a dream come true for Dorlas, who manned the Azkals backline for two years from 2008 and also became part of the national futsal team in 2010.

“It’s always an honor. I’ve been dreaming of getting this opportunity to be a coach of a national team.”

Being the current chief mentor of Loyola Meralco Sparks’ Under-17 team and assistant coach of leading FC Meralco Manila in the top flight Philippines Football League, Dorlas said that he is getting the jitters although he is not new to coaching.

“This is the first time for me coaching a national team. There’s a lot of pressure on me.”

Dorlas is getting needed support from the coaching staff composed of Christopher Pedimonte, Kit Salanguit and Mark Francisco.

Pedimonte is a former teammate of Dorlas in San Beda and now the coach of reigning National Collegiate Athletic Association champion squad, Salanguit is a member of De La Salle-Canlubang’s coaching staff and affiliated with the Laguna Football Association, while Francisco is a goalkeeping coach from Pampanga.

“I’m very happy with the coaching staff I have right now. There’s a very good atmosphere within the group. We are making sure that we’re sharing our knowledge and coming to decisions together.”

A former national booter himself, Dorlas wants to share to the junior Azkals the experiences and lessons he picked up from the international arena.

“As soon as you step on the field and hear the national anthem, you get this feeling in your body that is unexplainable. I keep reminding these players that it’s an honor (to play for the national team). There are many other players who would like to put on the jersey with the Filipino flag on it, step on the field and represent the country.”

Asked if he is eyeing to coach the Azkals, Dorlas admitted that he is not yet ready for the task but is keeping himself open to such golden opportunity.

“I’m very young and inexperienced. I want to develop as a coach and gain more experience. Honestly, my mindset right now is to be with this age group, in developing these young players. And hopefully, in a couple of years, you can come back and ask me the same question.”

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