A few days had passed since the news was broken. Aris Caslib, a living legend in Filipino footballing circles, is now going to be in charge of the Loyola Meralco Sparks.
“Honored,” were the first words out his mouth.
“I’m honored, and at the same time, it’s a big responsibility. Loyola Meralco Sparks FC has been performing incredibly well in the UFL. They would usually be in the top three, or top four, and the challenge right now, is to bring it up further, and get that chance to play in the Asian level.”
He was soft spoken, but deliberate with his words.
For those unfamiliar with Caslib’s pedigree, he’s had experience coaching the Philippine National Football Team at both the Senior, and Under-23 level. His reputation as one of the country’s finest coaches first developed with his mastery of the NCAA, where he led the San Beda Red Booters to a phenomenal eight straight titles.
With his appointment as the Sparks’ new mentor, he believes it’s an achievement not only for him, but for homegrown coaches all across the Philippines.
“We’re also grateful with the Loyola Meralco Sparks for considering a Filipino coach. It motivates all the Filipino coaches to work harder and be determined with their profession. So its a good opportunity for everyone,” he said.
Prior to accepting his new position, Caslib worked as Technical Director of the Philippine Football Federation (PFF), a position he relinquished in order to delve back into his passion for full time coaching.
“Direct coaching in competition, I’ve been out since I took responsibility in the federation as technical director. But between that period, from 2009 until the present, I would do training preparations for San Beda, then I was attached with the Azkals for a short period of time early this year,” he said of his hiatus from the sidelines.
He admitted that last July’s stint in charge of the Philippine National Team certainly had an impact on his decision to return to coaching. With Thomas Dooley unavailable to take charge of the Azkals in a friendly against Australian club, Perth Glory, Caslib stepped in for the American.
“I think that was the problem when I was given the chance to coach the Azkals team. The fire came out again,” he said smiling.
“At the end of the day, for us coaches, the most important thing is to really spend time in the pitch with players, so it’s a good break for me. It’s a good challenge and hopefully, we can live up to the club’s ultimate aim of winning.”