Hail to the Chief(s)!

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ROMY P. MARIÑAS

ROMY P. MARIÑAS

Like Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach who tried three times before finally bagging the Binibining Pilipinas-Universe crown and eventually becoming the 2015 Miss Universe, the Arellano Chiefs took as long to nail their first National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) senior football title.

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The victory in the 91st season of the NCAA was made sweeter by the Arellano University eleven beating the Red Lions squad from San Beda College, 2-0, in a winner-take-all match last week at the Rizal Football Stadium in Manila.

The Chiefs’ title bids in 2012 and 2013 were thwarted by the very same Red Lions, who this year were defending the NCAA crown for the fifth time.

To think that they joined the league just six years ago, while San Beda College has been playing the beautiful game, since 1924, long before Arellano University was founded in 1938 and enlisting in the NCAA football race only in 2010.

Too much of a headstart for the Red Lions and they took advantage of it by giving their exclusive school that is run by priests 22 titles since the early 1900s.

Incidentally and until recently, Arellano University had had no extensive sports program to rival that of San Beda and other NCAA member-schools for that matter.

Earlier, though, the university copped the men’s chess title.

Arellano University, originally a law school, also did not have the football pedigree that would have propelled it even psychologically past its NCAA rivals.

It has disclosed its secret to its breakthrough triumph that was pulled off against the backdrop of an apparent surge in popularity of football, at least among major colleges and universities in Metro Manila and, probably, in places other than Central Visayas and Western Visayas where the game—not basketball—is king.

To show how serious it was in promoting football among young people, the Arellano University management constructed the Chiefs’ own pitch—complete with dormitory—in Lagro, Quezon City.

The university is probably the only “poor” school in the NCAA to have invested an arguably sizeable amount in a football field, when it could have spent the money, perhaps, for its basketball or volleyball program.

According to Ravelo Saluria, coach of the Arellano eleven, their pitch provided them a venue where they can “really train.”

And, apparently, his boys really trained hard for the NCAA’s 91st season and were rewarded for their dedication.

From pictures of the Arellano Chiefs taken after the championship match, they were absolutely ecstatic, even in the wacky shots.

They should be after having proved that they have caught up with the best of the best in Philippine college football.

Their victory could inspire the “lesser” teams in the league to do better in the next season, with the apparent intimidation factor that may have helped San Beda steam¬roll the opposition in the past gone.

Hail to the rise of Philippine football and Hail to the Chief(s)!

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