Cebuano player to play for Pilipinas Flag Football team in Malaysia tourney
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebuano elite flag football player Ernest Ybañez Jr. finally fulfilled his dream of competing in an international sports event after being selected by the Agila Pilipinas Flag Football Team for the upcoming International Federation of American Football (IFAF) Continental Championships for Asia-Oceania on October 26-29, 2023, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Ybañez will join the Philippines’ official national team for flag football in this major tournament.
Cebuano player: Dream come true
For Ybañez, it’s a dream come true to finally don the tri-colors of the Philippines in an international tournament in his favorite sport, flag football.
He also feels honored to represent the Philippines in this sport. Ybañez became known in local sports as an elite track and field athlete with the University of Cebu (UC) Webmasters.
He bagged the gold medal in one of the athletics’ toughest events, decathlon in the Philippine National Games (PNG) in 2018 held in Cebu.
Playing flag football since 2012
Besides that, Ybañez who has been playing flag football since 2012 is the current strength and conditioning trainer for the Omega Boxing Gym.
“Thankful kaayo ko ni Lord, nalipay kaayo ko kay dugay ni nako nga pangandoy nga maapil sa national team nga morepresent sa ato country kay katong naa pa ko sa athletics ganahan jud kaayo ko muduwa anang mga international competition,” he said.
(I am thankful for the Lord, I am so happy because I have long dreamed that I will be included in the national team that would represent our country because when I was still in athletics I always loved to race in an international competition.)
“Wala damha sa flag football nako masuwayan, kulba sad kay lahi nga level of competition ako maexperience ang mga players kay mas taas pa nako ug mas paspas manglihok, pero excited gihapon ko kay diri matestingan ako abilidad as a flag football player,” Ybañez said.
(I never expected that in flag football I can try this, I am nervous also because the level of competition that the players like me can experience is of a higher level and the moves are faster, but I am still excited because in here my ability as a flag football player will be tested.)
Not expecting to be picked for national team
He said that he didn’t expect to be selected to the national team since he became inactive in the past few months and he focused on fun games instead of competitions.
However, he assures the Agila Pilipinas that he is still in tip-top shape, thanks to his vast experience as an elite track and field athlete.
Currently, Ybañez plays as a wide receiver and running back in offense. He serves as a cornerback and safety for defense in the local teams he plays such as the Guardians and the Ravens in the Cebu Flag Football League (CFFL).
Cebuano player: Training smart
To prepare for the IFAF Continental Championships, Ybañez focuses on his conditioning and agility.
“I have to train smart lang jud kay duol na lang kaayo ang competition, muadto pud ko sa Manila for team practices kay team sports man gud ni unya lisod pud og di nimo ma familiarize ang mga plays with the team,” he said.
(I have to train smart because the competition is really very near, I have to go to Manila for team practices because this is a team sport and it would be difficult if you cannot familiarize with the plays of the team.)
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