PFL: Davao Aguilas X Shonan Bellmare, a first in Philippine football

‘Qatar want to qualify for Asian Cup’ – Felix Sanchez

Davao Aguilas FC has partnered with Shonan Bellmare of the J League in what is considered a historic milestone for Philippine football.

Davao Aguilas FC  sent shockwaves to the rest of the teams in the Philippines Football League with this landmark partnership. The first of it’s kind in the country, the J-League’s Shonan Bellmare FC has signed a long term partnership with Mindanao’s only professional football club. As part of this new relationship the Aguilas will now be known as Davao Aguilas Bellmare FC helping solidify the influence of the Japanese club in the country.

International partnerships are nothing new for the Japanese as the J League has existing partnerships with Thailand’s and Vietnam’s top domestic leagues. But a club to club relationship is something new, a first in the country. The partnership between the two teams has been formed so that Davao and Shonan can cooperate in the areas of coaching, players scouting, youth development, and football marketing. Shonan will be helping Davao setup their youth academy some time next year. It is also understood that Shonan and Davao will be playing friendlies annually both here and in Japan. This can only benefit Davao in the future and is a show of their chairman’s ambition. Davao has also announced a 12 hectare facility being constructed in Mandu, Buhangin district in Davao. The new facility will house a 20,000-seater stadium for the first team, a state of the art training center with FIFA certified artificial and natural grass pitches, a dormitory for players and a 3 star hotel for fans and visitors. It’s also not just for football as a 12,000-seater multi-sport stadium will be included as well.

But what does this mean for Davao and possibly the rest of the PFL? Davao’s partnership with Shonan means a pipeline for both Bellmare franchises. Davao will benefit from the more advanced coaching and technical knowhow of the J League side while Shonan will have marketing benefits from the exposure that they will receive in Mindanao. Shonan can also send talented youngsters in need of game time to Davao for some much needed match experience while Davao’s own youth prospects can also benefit by training with the J League team during the PFL offseason; Much like how Albirex Niigata does it with their own B Team in the S League.

If other PFL teams follow suit, it could be a massive boost both to the level of play on the field and through a marketing standpoint. An example would be Ceres Negros. Their consistent form and a good existing setup will be an attractive proposition to potential partners if they decide to follow Davao’s footsteps. Ceres’ roster of talented players almost ensures them of an Asian Champions League qualifying slot every year. This will give their potential partners an incentive to send players to Ceres on loan as they play on a good level and will aid in their youngsters development if Ceres plays continental football which is a high chance every year. Other teams not in the running for continental spots could still use the appeal of giving game time to fringe players and youngsters and still play at a decent level and boost their brand in the country. Unlike Albirex Niigata in Singapore, all the teams in the PFL have their respective shot in qualifying for ACL and AFC Cup tournaments as all the teams follow AFC guidelines.

Davao Aguilas Bellmare FC’s statement of intent is very clear, they want to be the very best in the country, and all these developments help cement that claim. It’s up to the rest of the league to step up and match Davao’s ambition.

Photo credit: Davao Aguilas Facebook Page