BY MARK L. GARCIA
Margaha is indeed witness to homegrown champions.
Early this month, two Sagaynon football players took their spotlight as they helped bag the Philippine Football Federation Under 19 (first division) championship trophy, besting other football teams in the country.
Rohderick Rodriguez, hailed as the most valuable player of the game, and James Araez are part of the Negros Occidental Football Association (NOFA) team. Both begun their training at the Old Sagay Football Club under the wing of coach Michael Fernan Sabaiton.
The 11-man team of NOFA brought glory to the province as they defeated teams from the National Capital Region, Iloilo, SOCCKSARGEN, among others.
Sabaiton shared the humble beginnings of the boys, saying that before, they were just training in the black sand shore of Margaha but because they kicked hard, they made it to the NOFA team.
They lacked resources and funding during the time they begun training but because of the boys’ perseverance and passion for football, they persevered, he said.
Sabaiton also thanked all the people who helped OSFC including Mayor Thirdy Marañon, City Sports Coordinator Benson Fernandez, and Hannah Ramos, president of OSFC.
He is also grateful to Old Sagay Elementary School coaches and teachers Lyzel Mendieta Magadja, Bebe Rosie Elare, Lida Alob, Delia Ogan, Marichel Bandolon and Rena Arnaez, and Old Sagay Captain Marlon Vasquez for their support.
He added the Sagaynons supported the team to improve and compete with others in different places.
He also said one crucial support are the parents of the football players as they are very dedicated.
Mayor Marañon said “our grassroots football tournament which aims to increase interest in the sports and to reach out to as many potential players yielded good results.”
“We are proud of our homegrown players and we pray they will continue to hit their goals,” the mayor added.*