Kaya Futbol Club: More than a Football Club Community / Sports

Miji Gonzales writes about the football club closest to his heart.

Kaya Futbol Club has been making history and turning tables lately with its participation in the 2016 AFC Cup, an annual international football tournament organized by the Asian Football Confederation. But believe it or not, this local football club has been around since 1996. Yes, they’re celebrating their 20th anniversary in July! Aside from competing locally (and now internationally), they’ve also channeled their passion for grassroots development and different causes to spark positive change through football. Who is Kaya FC? We’ve simplified it for you.

A Philippine football club … with the best fans

Kaya FC’s name, as you might have guessed, comes from the Filipino word kaya, which means “We can.” In early Tagalog, the word translates as “key to brotherhood.” Being a socially and culturally inclusive club, brotherhood has become the team’s hallmark in its quest to promote football.

This brotherhood has also extended to the fans, so it comes as no surprise that, in 2011, Ultras Kaya, also known as Sons of Mighty Kaya (SOMK), was formed. Which explains their slogan, “Football made us friends; Kaya made us brothers.”

Ultras Kaya after the 2015 UFL Cup final.

With their self-penned chants and endless cheering throughout Kaya’s games, Ultras Kaya is undeniably the most passionate, most loyal group of fans in Philippine football, and Kaya is lucky to have them on their side. Kaya’s games are not complete without them.

Ultras Kaya cheering loudly during the Kaya vs. Balestier Khalsa match at Rizal Memorial Stadium.

A role model off the pitch

Always finding creative ways to use football to create positive change or empower the youth, the club has always been eager to work with various organizations that support different causes.

Kaya captain Aly Borromeo with the Futkaleros.

For instance, Kaya has committed itself to working with ICanServe Foundation to help promote breast cancer awareness every October.

Whether it’s a football tournament or a fun-filled carnival for a cause, Kaya has proven that anyone can make a difference in their own little way.

Using pink laces to promote breast cancer awareness.

Just like brotherhood, the club’s “Never say die” spirit also resonates off the pitch as they demonstrate through football that any obstacle and adversity in life can be overcome.

Chris Greatwich making a Kythe kid laugh and smile at National Children’s Hospital.

They say that the greatest passion is compassion, and we can learn from Kaya, a club that believes that compassion can truly fill anyone with hopes and dreams.

An instrument for grassroots development

Inspired by the beautiful game, Kaya FC established Kaya FC Academy in 2010 in hopes of promoting the sport to players of all ages and abilities, from different backgrounds and nationalities, through its wide range of programs. With only 6 students during its inception, the academy now has over 800 registrants!

Kaya FC Academy students with their UFL Youth trophies in 2014.

But even when competing in tournaments and playing against opposing teams, the Kaya youngsters uphold the importance of sportsmanship and friendship. Kaya reminds their students that football tournaments can also bring everyone together to enjoy the sport.

Kaya FC Academy students with a Gawad Kalinga kid during the Warren & Brown Tournament.

The academy recently launched the Kaya Tots and Kaya Kickers programs so that, as early as two years old, learning football can be connected and associated with physical, technical, educational, and social development.

Kaya Tots and Kickers at North Forbes.

This is probably the best alternative to day care!

A source of Pinoy pride

Once upon a time, Pinoy pride only thrived in other sports and, eventually, in international football with the success of the Philippine national football team (Azkals) in 2010, but now local football clubs have proven that it can thrive there too.

Filipino fans during the AFC Cup game against Kitchee in Hong Kong on February 23

Having won two back-to-back AFC Cup hme games, Kaya has become the first Philippine club to top a group in Asia and win two consecutive games at home, albeit with three more games left. Kaya is not just writing their own history, but they are also writing Philippine sports history.

An inspiration

Long before today’s successes, Kaya faced many challenges and obstacles. Winning, almost winning, and losing? Any team, especially Kaya, knows these feelings all too well,but the club never lost the hunger to fight back and dream bigger. Fans and rivals alike are reminded that if Kaya can do it, we can too.

Ultras Kaya and the team after the 2015 UFL Cup final.

The club celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, and amid their achievements and their historic performance in the ongoing AFC Cup, we realize that what has kept them strong over the years is the same force that made them who they are—a mix of hunger, heart, and humility. These are the ingredients that strengthen the brotherhood, the same qualities that they share with others, which is why th
ey are more than a football club.

Team photo at Mong Kok Stadium in Hong Kong.

 


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