More than 20 years ago, Wilfred Steven Uytengsu and his wife Kerri were looking for a football tournament where their son Sean could compete in.
Uytengsu, president and chief executive officer of Alaska Milk Corp., thought that if they couldn’t find a tournament for Sean, perhaps the company could sponsor one and, in the process, help other kids.
Alaska, already a basketball supporter with a team in the PBA, teamed up with former Real Madrid player and Alabang Football School and Makati Football School founder and director Tomas Lozano to create the Alaska Football Cup.
Twenty years later, the Alaska Football Cup for youth, ages 7-17 is the longest running football grassroots development program in the country. Among the former Alaska Football Cup players who have excelled in the sport are Chieffy Caligdong and Aly Borromeo.
“I didn’t think we would go beyond three years. It’s really a testament to the partnership and perseverance of Tomas. I’m very happy that we were given the chance to help others, especially kids, to have other options besides basketball where they can excel at,” Uytengsu said during the opening of the 20th edition of the Alaska Football Cup at Alabang Country Club.
“We didn’t think we would grow like this or make it to 20 years,” said Blen Fernando, vice president for marketing at Alaska. “We don’t come here as a business helping the sport. It’s more the sport helping the business,” she added.
Through its youth sports development programs, Alaska does its part for nation building by helping nourish children so they can be champions in their fields of interest and life in general. By engaging the youth in sports, Alaska helps instill the values of determination, hard work, teamwork, discipline and sportsmanship.
Alaska’s youth sports development programs such as the Alaska Football Cup helps develop champions by promoting the values of determination, hard work, team work, discipline and sportsmanship.
Alaska Milk is perfect for children and adults because it provides long-term benefits that can be maximized when complemented with a healthy diet and exercise, sports and physical activity.
Last weekend’s event had 410 teams and a 6,150 players.
When the cup started 20 years ago at the same venue, there were 25 teams and 250 players.
Through the three-day tournament, there were 800 seven-a-side games played in 29 football fields, officiated by over 168 game officials.
Competing teams represented schools and football clubs from Masbate, Baguio, Negros Occidental, Cebu, Davao, Palawan, Legaspi, Laguna, Batangas, Bukidnon, Zambales, Pampanga, Tarlac, Ilocos, Bicol, Romblon, Davao Sur, Compostela Valley, Quezon, Cavite, Albay, Pangasinan, Bacolod, Iloilo, Mindoro and Metro Manila.
Fernando attributes the success of the tournament to the professionalism of the organizers.
“There were a lot of adjustments along the way. Tomas had to adjust to the way we wanted things done. He is very passionate about the sport,” said Fernando.
For the first time in its history, Alaska Football Cup gave the opportunity to four teams consisting of people with disabilities to compete in the tournament.
This shows how the tournament has grown in 20 years and how its success is measured not by the accolades it receives but in the enthusiasm of its participants.
“The Alaska Football Cup has reinforced our commitment to use sports and nutrition. These are very important aspects as we want to give kids an opportunity to embrace a healthy lifestyle,” said Uytengsu.