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NCR footballers eager to face former Cebu teammates

Mars G. Alison
NCR footballers eager to face former Cebu teammates
Cebu natives Nikki Canonigo and Gamay Arranguez, who represent NCR in Palaro, are eager to face former teammates

TAGUM CITY, Philippines – Dominique “Nikki” Canonigo and Mark Joseph “Gamay” Arranguez may be two of the National Capital Region Athletic Association’s (NCRAA) football stars, however, they are Cebuanos.

NCRAA’s secondary football team is being manned by the varsity team of Far Eastern University (FEU), which recently clinched its fifth straight title in the secondary football of the Universities Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP). Canonigo was named Most Valuable Player for the second straight year and best midfielder, while Arranguez, who scored the winning goal, also
copped the best striker award.

Canonigo hails from Mandaue City, Cebu, while Arranguez is from Cebu City. Both were scouted by Master Kum Chul Su from the Abellana National School (ANS). Canonigo joined FEU in 2011 and Arranguez joined him a year later.

NCRAA booted out Central Visayas Regional Athletics Association (CVIRAA) in the quarterfinals, 5-1, May 7 at the Davao del Norte Sports and Tourism Complex.

Both said they were somehow looking forward to facing the CVIRAA because they are all from Cebu. Some of the members of the CVIRAA football team used to be their their teammates
when they were still in Cebu like Bertram Musni, whom they played with in the Pomeroys team.

Canonigo’s first football team in Cebu was also coached by Hayato Ayabe, who is coaching the CVIRAA team.

According to the two, even if they will go up against their fellow Cebuanos, they will still give it their all and focus on beating them because they owe that to their team.

“All teams want to get to the finals so it will be hard to be friendly on the pitch but off pitch, off course, we are friends. And this is the same for whatever team or whoever that we go up against,” said the two.

Canonigo started playing football at the age of 5. His influence were his older brother who used to also play the sport as a goalkeeper, and his cousins. His father is also into sports, except that he plays softball.

In his elementary years, he often made it to the Mandaue Team during the regionals when he was still studying at the Subangdaku Elementary School. But it was only with FEU that he got to play in the Palarong Pambansa as part of NCRAA.

It is also the same for Arranquez, whose been promised a couple of times that he would be made a part of the CVIRAA selection when he used to study at ANS, but this was never realized.

Arranguez also belongs to a family of football players. He is the sixth of 7 siblings, where all the boys including their father play football.

Aside from that, Arranguez said they also live in a neighborhood where everyone plays football because the Cebu City Sports Center, which has a football field, is just within the area.
Arranguez added perhaps they never got into another sport like basketball because there was no basketball court in their area.

Now both 18 years old, Canonigo and Arranguez, are on their second and final stint in this national meet, where they hope to end with the secondary boys football title as they missed it last year after losing to MIMAROPA in the finals.

The footballers admitted they like being in the Capital rather than Cebu because of the pool of good coaches there.

For Arranguez, he said he likes how their coach always goes back to teaching them the basics while for Canonigo, he appreciates the foundation skills being imparted to them.

He added they improved their footballing skills under the tutelage of their coach in Manila.

Also in Manila, priority is teamwork, which they like, while in Cebu, it is more of developing the individual player.

However, both agree there is more of small-sided tournaments in Cebu than in Manila.

Both Canonigo and Arranguez will be taking up Physical Education still at FEU in a nod to their ANS football coach, Francis Ramirez.

At the same time, they also hope to get the attention of United Football League (UFL) teams, with whom they can already play for when they get to third year college.

Afterwards, both said they want to go back and teach in Cebu as they want to share all that they have learned in Manila particularly from FEU.

“Hopefully, we get to share the skills that we learned and maybe we can help other kids also get scholarships to universities in Manila like what happened to us,” Canonigo said. –

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