MANILA, Philippines - The main “goal” is to have the Philippine flag join the parade of colors of the great football nations of the globe in the next World Cup in Brazil in 2014.
Dan Palami, young businessman and sports patron who is playing the role as “very active” team manager of the country’s football team, aired confidence that with the proper training and support, the Philippines could vie in international football qualifiers and perform well enough to gain a slot in the next World Cup.
Palami, sans fanfare, had led a drive launched quietly last year to find promising football talents throughout the country to make up a rough pool from which to select members of the football team that has now been called “The Azkals”.
“We had enough unappreciated young football talent from which we formed a team that we are slowly but surely developing into a World Cup-class team,” Palami said in a recent interview before leaving for Hanoi, Vietnam where the Philippines put up a strong showing at the ASEAN Football Federation-Suzuki Cup, one of a long list of tournament qualifiers for the Brazil World Cup.
Palami declined to comment on the current controversy brewing in the local football scene as heads of football federations try to claim credit for the recent string of successes of the football team, saying he preferred to focus on motivating the team to work harder, and train for future battles on the football pitch.
He admitted that with the current lack of a nationwide football development program in schools, the task of spotting potential football talents was arduous and limited to the few football teams of some exclusive schools in Metro Manila and in certain provinces.
He noted that the current pool of 30 team members has many “Fil-foreigns” or Filipino-British or Fil-European youths who nurtured their love for and talent in football in soccer-crazy Europe.