THE Little Azkals will have a loaded schedule as soon as they arrive in Palermo, Italy tomorrow at 2 p.m. (8 p.m. local time) after a 16-hour flight with stops in Incheon, Dubai and Rome.
Host A.S.D SportVillage Tommaso Natale Scuola Calcio Giacomo Tedesco has prepared a welcome party for the team with the football school president Marika Tedesco, the wife of Giacomo Tedesco, to personally welcome them along with the school’s director general Nicolo’ Ferrante.
On Saturday, the team will have a light training in preparation for their first friendly match against the Born 1999 home team on Sunday where they will play Palermo, the team of their teammate Lorenzo Genco.
Genco is residing in Italy and attending the same football school with his brother Carmelo.
The match will be used as an evaluation of the team’s performance so the school could change whatever needs to be changed with the training program that it has prepared to best fit the Little Azkals.
Prior to their first match, the Little Azkals will pay a courtesy call to Philippine Ambassador to Italy Virgilio Reyes Jr., who will be visiting Palermo.
The training camp in Italy started with a proposal made by Ferrante who was on his second visit to Cebu last year wherein he witnessed the Little Azkals play in the 2nd Treadtel Cup.
He and Mister (coach) Rachel Ruiz Genco, a board member of the Cebu Football Association and also a coach in the Italian football school, worked together to pull off the training camp for the Philippine junior team.
She is the first Filipino coach in Palermo. She said she accepted the offer for her to be one of the school’s coaches because her sons go there. She is coaching the boys’ team born 2006-2007, 2005, as well as help out with the boys born 1999 team and not a girl’s team as earlier reported.
It was actually Carmelo’s performance in Italy which got Ferrante interested in visiting Cebu and observing football tournaments here.
The host football academy was put up by professional football player Giacomo Tedesco about four years ago. He formerly played for Reggina in the Serie B and is presently playing for Trapani in Serie C.
One of the coaches who will be helping the Little Azkals’ training is former Serie A coach Ignazio Arcoleo, who is said to have a hand in developing Italian football standout Marco Materazzi.
Arcoleo will be collaborating with the school’s 18 football coaches for the Little Azkals training camp. There will be days wherein the team will train twice a day on a broken schedule or one long session with scrimmages against Palermo home teams in the afternoon.
The various Filipino community in Italy are also lending a hand to the Little Azkals.
A welcome dinner will be hosted by one of the groups of the Philippine Don Bosco Association 1979 Don S alvatorre Nasseli on April 21. 10. /CORRESPONDENT MARS G. ALISON
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