IN PHOTOS: Tuloy Foundation’s new artificial-grass football field in Alabang

Bob Guerrero
The charitable organization led by Fr. Rocky Evangelista takes the wraps off the XO Field

 

MANILA, Philippines – Tuloy Foundation is located along the Alabang-Zapote road in Cupang, Muntinlupa, a stone’s throw away from Alabang Town Center. Tucked away in the back of the sprawling Tuloy complex is the new XO Field that was inaugurated on April 26. It’s a unique facility in many respects.

The new field measures 87m by 45m. That’s far less than the regulation minimum of 100m by 64m, but this size is alright for recreational and youth play. This dimension is roughly similar to that of the BGC Turf field.

It’s called the XO Field not because it finagled a lucrative naming rights deal with a Cognac brand. Fr. Rocky wants the street kids, orphans, and foundlings of Tuloy Foundation to grow up to be “extraordinary,” hence “X.O.”

 Here is Fr. Rocky with his friend and legal advisor, Gil Zerrudo. Evangelista, the president of Tuloy Foundation, has long advocated football as a tool for values formation with youth, calling the game “a school for life.” Evangelista says, “Once you get high on football, you will always look for a football field. It’s a different kind of addiction.”

Raymond Tan, the Hong Kong-based CEO of apparel company Luen Thai, bankrolled the pitch. He is on the left beside former Azkals coach Aris Caslib. Tan owns a football school in Hong Kong and kicked around a bit during the launch. Tan has a twin brother named Jerry, who is the head of the Northern Marianas Football Association. Jerry has built turf pitches there as well.

 

Unlike almost every other artificial-grass field in the country, this pitch has no infill, or rubber granules. The contractor, Firmbuilders, says this makes the surface much cooler on hot days since there is no heat-absorbing rubber. The Tencate Thiolon grass is branded Torch Grass, and Rolin Uy from Firmbuilders says Torch is a leading supplier in China.

Underneath the grass is a 10mm shockpad for comfort. I must say it does feel very cushy. My 45-year-old knees approve.

Tuloy kids play rugby too, so this soft pitch is great for that sport.

Firmbuilders are giving free maintenance to the pitch for five years. That is also the length of the warranty. This is Firmbuilders’ fourth pitch installation in the Philippines. They did the DLSU Canlubang pitch, the turf in Quirino Stadium in Bantay, Ilocos Sur, where Ilocos United played in the first PFL Season, and the ground in the Nueva Ecija University of Science and Technology in Cabanatuan.

All of these pitches feature that signature striped grass that assistant referees, who must make offside calls, probably love.

Firmbuilders’ next football project will be an indoor 200m track with a small futsal-sized turf field inside that will rise soon in Sta. Rosa. Watch for it!

There are yellow lines for two seven-a-side pitches that, based on my calculations, are 45 meters long and about 38 meters wide, a nice squarish size for small-sided play. Speedy wingers would love the abundance of space on the flanks. This makes the XO field ready for multi-pitch football festivals.

An interesting feature of this field are the penalty boxes and six-yard boxes that are smaller than regulation. I am told the goal frames are also smaller. The idea is to make these in proportion to the size of the field. I think the big box is now about 7 meters narrower than regulation. This philosophy is in contrast to the similarly-sized Turf BGC field, which has full-size penalty boxes, six-yard boxes, and goal frames, to simulate a real pitch.

This set-up in XO is not going to be ideal for serious recreational players who want a full 40m by 18m penalty area, but for the kids in Tuloy who will be using the field the most, it’s okay.

   Three rows of seating pitchside. This will be fine for most festivals and events here.

The Tuloy kids on their field. Fr. Rocky says his players are bred to be quick to make up for their lack of size. When people are asked why Tuloy footballers are so speedy, Fr. Rocky quips: “It’s because they are so used to running away from the police all their lives.”

Plenty of buffer space between the sideline and the wall. Good call.

The field is mainly for the use of the Tuloy children but Fr. Rocky is open to renting it out. There should be plenty of demand with its good location.

This will be the second artificial football pitch near the Alabang-Zapote road. A previous turf pitch, Kickoff Indoor Football Center, opened 4 kilometers down the road in 2013 but regrettably closed soon after. One imagines that XO will stick around a while longer. – Rappler.com

Follow Bob on Twitter @PassionateFanPH.