13 April 2012

Realization of a vision (Little Azkals)

By Cheska D. Geli

Saturday, April 14, 2012

THE national Under-14 football team has come a long way.

On April 18, it will leave for Italy for a month-long training in preparation for the AFC Festival of Football in Malaysia in May.

Having a young Philippine team making a name for itself in the world stage, is something that the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) visualized for its grassroots program.

“When we embarked on this grassroots program, this was the direction that we were going for. This kind of growth from players is something that is anchored on the grassroots prorgam,” said coach Eleazar Toledo.

Most of these kids started training when they were younger and everyone saw their improvement.

After the team’s training in Italy at the ASD Sports Village Tomasso Natale in
Palermo, the team will be playing in seven friendly matches.

The activity targets better performances from the team in this year’s AFC Festival of Football in Malaysia from May 28 to June 4, and in an invitational match in Japan two weeks later.

A total of 23 players are part of the pool in the Italy camp, seven of whom are Cebuanos and 10 are new recruits.

The camp was offered by Italian technical director Nicolo Ferrante.

The PFF, the parents and some sponsors paid for the roundtrip fare of the boys, while the accommodation, food and training venue will be shouldered by the school in Palermo.

Elizabeth Hotel Cebu backed up the team through financial aid.

"This is our way our of supporting Filipinos and the Cebuanos who excelled in sports," said hotel manager Katherine Angala.

The core of the team are the same players that represented the country in the AFC Festival of Football last year. These are the players who will move up to the Under-16 division.

"This way, dili na maglisod ang coaching staff kay core group naman sila," said Toledo who is also part of the PFF Grassroots Development Committee.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 14, 2012.

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