15 April 2013

Azkals–homegrown in eight years?


COUNT eight years before the Azkals are bannered by domestic talent, Philippine Football Federation president Mariano Araneta says with a bit of unease.
Araneta expects that by the time 2021 rolls around, the PFF’s grassroots program will have methodically developed local players to alter the face of the national team—from mestizo to mostly brown and homegrown.
Although often bursting with Fil-European stars and other foreign players with Filipino roots but crowding out domestic players, the Azkals have led a resurgence of soccer in the country after a long slide toward stagnation.
Their heady appearances in the Asian Football Confederation in the last four years—including a gutsy third-place finish in the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup in Nepal and a semifinal stint in the 2010 Suzuki Cup—have greased the creaking gears of local soccer.
With the Azkals, “futbol” is in overdrive and has increased PH’s reputation among the confederation’s emerging countries. The game is relevant again and continues to attract potential national players, especially in the countryside, who tend to get hooked instead on basketball, the country’s sport of choice, albeit the wrong one.
As proof of the Azkals’ influence in molding Pinoy pitch prodigies, Araneta reports that the PFF’s grassroots program that hardly started has recruited 56,000 youngsters, and counting, nationwide.
With the upsurge in interest, soccer’s national sports association, under its long-term youth agenda, is hammering out teams for regional pitch wars for players under 13, 14, 17, 19 and 23 years of age.
Last year, an under-14 Azkals team finished third in an invitational tournament in Japan and showed in striking fashion the  NSA’s drive toward a truly homebred national squad.
Thinking strategically, soccer’s governing body will bring in Roy Thomas, a German expert in grassroots youth soccer system to multiply its rising share of domestic standouts. Thomas is due next month under a cooperative venture with the German Foreign Ministry.
Local soccer’s current age-group model frets the PFF head some. He says that Indonesia and other countries unfettered by dual-citizenship laws are likely to emulate our Azkals experience; they would recruit nationals abroad to transform their teams.

A largely domestic, certainly not a domesticated Azkals team, came up while Araneta and I chatted about Fifa dates when international clubs are inclined to release players for national team duty.
The Fil-Europeans, obedient to their clubs, are in peril of missing the Azkals team, a group winner in the recent qualifiers when it joins six other national contingents and host Maldives in the AFC Challenge Cup next year.
The winner of the Maldives tournament, scheduled outside the Fifa calendar, will secure a slot to the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Australia.
Araneta said the PFF will appeal to the AFC executive committee at its meeting in Kuala Lumpur next month to have the Challenge Cup moved to international Fifa dates.
Does the PFF have the numbers to sway the committee? Araneta would like to think so.

inquirer.net link


  1. It would be much better if all the coaches PFF had assigned to handle grassroots training and selection will be true in choosing the kids by giving everybody the chance. Because here in Negros Occidental, the U13 and U11 from Bacolod City and all other Cities and Towns, except those from San Carlos, were not given the chance since San Carlos City has already made its selection which represented NOFA. I hope PFF should look in to this. Please give this your priority since a lot of kids want to play football.
    For us here, we have been trying to teach the kids, especially those who are poor, and exposing them to football festivals but sad to know that their future in football will only be up to festivals.
    So, we hope and Pray that you will give every kid the chance if you want a change in Philippine Football. Thanks and God Bless!

  2. Grassroots who were chosen last year during the Kasibulan and were promised to be part of the training pool for the next U13 and U11 woke-up facing a blank wall, not knowing Negros Occidental has already been done.

  3. A lot of Negros based teams especially Genesis FC, Bago City and Wildfox/Bata ES always field in overage players in all football festivals maybe that's why PFF chooses San Carlos City as they always play above in their age group rather than below of their cut off year. Players skills and techniques always improve when they are faced with difficult situations.

  4. But then, for the benefit of everybody, we should try involving all the kids, anyway, during proper selection process overage players will definitely be disqualified. Because if we are FAIR enough in what is called FAIR, everybody is entitled to be heard or be seen. How can we chose the "best" if we make the selection limited to those whom they know or within their sights.

  5. I'm afraid PFF really lacks the vision/direction to carry this through successfully. They've not even organized the U23 squad that is suppose to be competing this year at the SEA Games. There is too much dependency on Palami, intentionally or unintentionally, but this runs counter to grassroots development.

  6. It is unfortunate that the PFF feels the need to show that they are trying to appease those who are opposed to the use of foreign born players. Talking about a player's skin color is grossly offensive and has no place in football. I agree that the goal should be to give youth an oppurtunity to develop in order to reach their maximum potential. It is good for society that youth learn about fitness, teamwork, fair play, leadership, and all the other benefits of the sport. That should be the goal of the PFF not to have a national team with darker skin. If good programs are put in place, and if youth play the sport on their own time on any patch of grass or ground that they can find, then national team players will result. Perhaps an unintended consequence will be that pinoys will be sought by foreign teams and there will still be a problem getting a release for national team duty.

  7. perhaps araneta should tell palami to step down.
    he is destroying any chance of development of football. both the azkals and global are to dependent on foreigners.
    Palami is an EPIC failure.

    1. Right on!

      But on the other hand. Araneta will never tell Palami to step down. Why? Palami is loaded, and without Palami, much of the new interest for the sport wouldnt have happened. Araneta wouldnt have had the chance to bring in the players that Palami has managed to get hold of.

      As to Global FC. Well, in 8 years time, if the UFL still exist, there will hardly be any homegrown players in the teams, specially if some of the weaker teams gets more financial backing.

  8. PFF is not doing its job right in the Grassroots. Lool at U13 'Little Azkals' -no Team manager, U15 'Junior Azkals'- no definite training camp schedule and June is fast approaching, U19 Teen Azkals- put up a soccer academy to finance its financial team needs where only the rich can afford. With these problems , how can we promise a better future for Philippine Football? Foreign born players again?

    1. well PFF can do all this bullshit things as the azkals fans know nuts about football or football development.
      Its a disgrace to see fans saying a goal keeper is good is he save a penalty just once.
      That comment proof the know nuts about football as this means joe hart,buffon are all lousy keeper.
      penalty is 50%50% thingy as the ball either goes in or not as some time the keeper save it or the ball goes out.
      All azkals fans are just interested to see instant result.
      As such a real football fans will tell u PFF have screwed football big time in the country that once the foreign base pool dry up it will be back to square one.
      So think abt it.

    2. Real football fans appreciate the work that the PFF has done for football in this country. 3 years ago where was football? Tell me. And lets start comparing

    3. Why does the U-teams need a manager? What they need is a good coach and staff. Fuck the manager thing. But then again, its the Philippines. There is always someone who wants to be in charge, and selection process will always be off the charts or weird, like its always been for ages, and will probably never change.

      And 8 years? It will take more than 8 years for us to close the gap between the other SEA countries. They are way ahead, and dont need a quick fix like bringing in their foreign based players. If they were so desperate for glory, they would do the same thing as what the azkals is doing.

      Araneta will always be a puppet as long as Palami is the manager. The puppet, and the puppeteer. Theyve turned the azkals into a brand. I wonder what will happen if suddenly football isnt that popular anymore. What will happen to all the Azkals cafe and bars all over Cebu and Manila. But i cant really blame them for trying to make some money.

      Not a positive comment, but thats the plain truth.

  9. I can't tell whether the racist comments came from Della or Araneta. If he was ignorant enough to make comments about mestizo or brown players, he should immediately resign before FIFA forces him out and sanctions the PFF.

  10. Its an idiot article.

    Here's a question for you ignorant lot... so lets say some of the kids that are being trained in the Philippines get picked up by La Macia or Chelsea youth academy.... and they continue their training overseas. And eventually make it to the senior team. Are they classified as Filipinos or foreign? Our idiot media will immediately classify them as foreigners, and idiot Ilonggos will cry foul once more oh we are being neglected huhuhu. Pweh! Tell me! How would you classify them now?