Cebu FC: From ‘one crazy idea’ to representing Cebu and the Philippines
Being one of the frontliners when it comes to sports, it is not surprising that a professional football club has long been awaited not only in the Cebu football community but also in the entirety of Cebu.
The Dynamic Herb Cebu Football Club started with one crazy idea of CEO Ugur Tasci of building a club and a stadium.
“Actually, this is not new, this is quite a long time plan, it was even actually before Cebu, this plan was there when I was in Los Banos, but of course once we came Cebu, once we start Leylam, and then things went more faster, more in some ways, work out which everything goes fast and really in good track so there was no reason that we couldn’t be in the PFL, and I want to have some of changes that’s why,” Tasci said.
Tasci was referring to changes in the Philippine football for the benefit for all football enthusiasts in the country.
“Philippines is for me is like the football is better option than basketball than other sports, it’s your international success. I’m not against basketball, I am not against the other sports but considering football is the most popular in the world,” said Tasci, adding that there is a potential for the country to excel in the sport internationally.
The realization of Tasci’s “one crazy idea” started when his family decided to take on building the Dynamic Herb football stadium and then forming the club while the country was still on lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which made the process doubly challenging.
However, all is rewarded as just on its third year of infancy, the CFC is now representing the Philippines continentally via the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup.
For homegrown talent John Francis “Jack” Zambrano, being able to compete continentally has a huge impact on Cebu, especially the football community.
“This being my first club in my professional career, it is always nice to look at the people that you can inspire and as a Cebuano it is nice to know that I am able to carry the shirt on a continental basis not just locally. So ideally you’d want to perform well, individually and as a team so that people back at home can see that it is possible for a Cebuano or a person from the Philippines to perform at that level,” Zambrano said during an episode of CDN SportsTalk.
He was joined in the show by teammates Arda Çinkir, Kintaro “King” Miyagi, and Ken Murayama.
Watch the episode here:
The Gentle Giants earned a slot to the AFC Cup after finishing second to veteran club Kaya Iloilo FC in their first stint in the Philippines Football League (PFL) season 2022-2023.
The club is contesting the top spot in Group F against Cambodia’s Phnom Penh Crown FC, Australia’s Macarthur FC, and 2022 Myanmar National League champions, Shan United.
Aside from competing continentally, the Gentle Giants are also vying domestically for its first Copa Paulino Alcantara title, something that has evaded them since they started competing professionally in 2021.
Despite being a young club, and not barely on its third year from inception, the Gentle Giants have proven that they deserve to be in the country’s premier football competition and their participation is no fluke.
According to Miyago, another homegrown talent, the club’s strength lies on how they bond with each other on and off the pitch.
“I think the strength is that we are a young team and we get to bond with each other like outside the field also, it’s this young generation culture for us, we go out together, we eat together, it is really easy to talk to them…this team we go out together,” said Kintaro, adding that building chemistry off the pitch is also essential.
Aside from Zambrano and Kintaro, other homegrown talents in the club are Marcel Ivan Ouano, Elijah Jacob Liao, Baris Tasci, Evren Tasci, and Kore Kore Marius.
The Tascis have Turkish blood, but are considered Cebuanos as they grew up here, while Marius is from Ivory Coast, but is also considered an adopted Cebbuano.
The club also have talents from around the country — Florencio Badelic Jr., Jeremiah Borlongan, Roberto Corsame Jr., Ralphie Dabao III, Daniel Bernan Gadia, Jaime Rosquillo, John Renz Saldivar, Nathanael Ace Villanueva, and Chima Uzoka, who also have Nigerian blood.
Foreign players in the club are Çinkir and Göktug Demiroglu of Turkey and Rintaro Hama, Ken Murayama, Ren Okuda and Ryoo Togashi of Japan.
The club has had the support not only of the Cebu football community, but also of the entire Cebu, as proven by the packed home games and high viewership rates via the PFL livestream, to which Tasci has always been grateful.
The club’s head coach is American Joshua Schirmer who is being assisted by Scottish Mustafa Al-Saffar, while goalkeeping coach is Ref Delany Cuaresma and team manager Hannah Jayne Wong.
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