San Lazaro Park new football hub

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MANILA Jockey Club Inc., the country’s premier horse racing club and one of Asia’s oldest, hosted the inauguration and turnover ceremonies of the FIFA Football Turf Project at the San Lazaro Leisure and Business Park last Saturday.

The project, formalized in April 2014, was made in partnership with the Philippine Football Federation. 

In attendance were executives from the Asian Football Confederation, Asean Football Federation, PFF Board of Governors, Philippine Olympic Committee, Manila Jockey Club, and the Municipality of Carmona represented by Mayor Dahlia A. Loyola. 

MJC Chairman and CEO, Atty. Alfonso R. Reyno Jr., together with FIFA Council Member and PFF president, Mariano V. Araneta Jr. and PFF General Secretary, Atty. Edwin Gastanes, led the official turnover ceremonies of the FIFA Football Turf, which will serve as the main pitch of the National Football Center, soon to be developed at SLLBP. 

“We thank the Manila Jockey Club for their support in the creation of this new football turf, and their magnificent generosity in making the site available to us. We hope that in the future, this center will be the place where we can train and develop the next generation of football players, coaches, referees and administrators who will lift Philippine football to greater heights,” Araneta said.

MJC President Atty. Alfonso G. Reyno III (left), MJC Chairman and CEO Atty. Alfonso R. Reyno Jr. (center) and PFF president Mariano V. Araneta are shown during the inauguration and turnover ceremonies of the FIFA Football Turf Project at the San Lazaro Leisure and Business Park last Saturday.

The pitch was constructed by ACT Global, a FIFA preferred producer of artificial turf from the United States. It is 105 meters long and 68 meters wide, the recommended size of the international body for its top level & international matches, with a present seating capacity for 1,000 to 1,200 people. It also features a prestigious FIFA certified 2-Star rating, which is the highest FIFA rating for artificial turf fields. 

“The pitch is one of the best artificial turfs available in the country today,” Gastanes said.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the PFF House of Football, one of the ongoing infrastructure projects of the National Football Center, was also held earlier in the day. The 4-storey building will serve as the official headquarters of the PFF which will include its corporate offices, training center and dormitories for members of the national teams attending their training camps. Future developments include two natural grass turfs, two mini artificial pitches, locker and shower rooms, gym, and a rehabilitation center available for injured and recovering players. 

“The Manila Jockey Club is proud to partner with the PFF and FIFA in building these facilities that will help raise our stature in world football. With other developments in the pipeline for Philippine football in the area, the San Lazaro Leisure and Business Park is proud to take its place as a mecca of football in this country. Rest assured that MJC will continue to support and create programs in cooperation with the PFF toward a bigger and brighter future for Philippine football,” Atty. Alfonso G. Reyno III, President of MJC said.

After the launch, the first football matches were held on the pitch; a women’s football friendly between the University of the Philippines and the De La Salle University, and an official Ang Liga men’s football match dominated by NCAA Champions, San Beda College against the UAAP Champions, Ateneo de Manila University. 

The event coincided with Manila Jockey Club’s 150th Anniversary celebration this year. Its partnership with the PFF pays tribute to its heritage as one of the earliest football clubs in the country. In the early 1900s, MJC had its own football club formed after the Philippine-American War which competed with local teams such as the Manila Sporting Club, Paris Club, Sandow Athletic Club and the Bohemian Sporting Club.

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