The Davao Aguilas during their visit and brief training session at the Ateneo de Davao Matina Campus, June 11 2018

The eagle has been associated as a symbol of power and strength since ancient times, with keen eyes, it symbolizes perspicacity, courage, and strength. The eagles soaring high above Mt. Apo, has been associated with the Davao region, specially when competing at the national level in sports.

The Philippine Eagle was thought to be endangered a decade ago, but now, a new breed of eagle was born not to fly in the skies but to take Davao to the top flight of club football in the Philippines. The Davao Aguilas, is professional football club and the sole Mindanao-Based club in the inaugural and second season of the Philippine Football League. The team is coached by former Ateneo de Davao University Coach Melchor Anzures, and is assisted by Coach Leigh Manson, formerly of Global FC, who, previously, has also worked with other clubs in Japan and European clubs like  Manchester United and FC Barcelona.

The club has gathered wider social media attention, after the acquisition of the Younghusband brothers, Phil and James from the now defunct PFL club Meralco Manila.

Davao Aguilas with coach Leigh Manson, as they were starting their training.

Last June 11, Wednesday, the Aguilas came to visit Ateneo de Davao University as part of their drive in building a bigger fan base from their home city and also to garner support for their upcoming match this Saturday against Ceres Negros FC, who, is currently ranked first in PFL standings. The team arrived in high spirits as students and faculty came out to give them a much needed warm welcome before they started training, in contrast to that gloomy morning. Notable players present were brothers Phil and James Younghusband; Matthew Hartman, an injured Simone Rota, and recent addition to the team, goalkeeper Patrick Deyto. Rota who suffered an injury just recently was seen being given PT exercises by the teams therapist, while Deyto, was being warmed up by Coach Ronoel Garfin, a Davao native and former member of the Ateneo de Davao coaching staff. After training, the team took the time to have photos taken with the faculty and some of the students who managed to remain.

The Aguilas’ coaching staff also gave a brief training session for football coaches, here they took the opportunity to share some of their techniques on how they prepared and trained the team, both physically and mentally for a match, from warm up and activation exercises to football drills that top tier teams trained on. Leigh Manson mentioned that the drills they practice was set to condition each team member and to assure that they have a winners mindset. He also shared that he hoped that the team could win and compete with top caliber teams in the years to come. Manson also mentioned that it would be great if Davaoeños would support and aide in promoting the club, especially now that they will be moving their home pitch to Davao City, currently the Aguilas home pitch is at the Davao del Norte Sports Complex in Tagum City Davao del Norte.

Leigh Manson (left) of the Davao Aguilas briefs the coaches on what the exercise is about as Melchor Anzures (middle) formerly of Ateneo de Davao observes

Coaches executing drills as instructed by Aguilas Leigh Manson

Ateneo de Davao Junior High School Football Coach Marvin Dava and Aguilas’ Reymart Cubon

The Aguilas will be playing against Ceres Negros FC this Saturday, 4pm at the Davao del Norte Sports Complex in Tagum City.

Article by Ivan Caiña

Photos by Will Gonzales