Former national team captain Mariano “Nonong” Araneta received a fresh mandate to lead Philippine football for the next four years, winning a second term unopposed during the 12th Philippine Football Federation Congress Friday at Century Park Hotel in Manila.
The athlete-turned-businessman, who is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Asian Football Confederation, has been at the helm in the PFF since November 2010 when he was unanimously voted by the PFF Congress to replace the late Jose Mari Martinez.
M’lang North Cotabato mayor Joselito Piñol was elected PFF vice president in the polls that also saw Lalaine Sarmiento of Quezon Province FA becoming the first female member of the PFF Board of Governors as representative of the women’s sector.
Speaking at a press conference after the Congress, Araneta said his priority will be the formation of a community-based national league which is expected to kick off in two years.
“The introduction of the new league in 2017 is a big task for us,” said Araneta. “That is the most important project that we have in mind for this term.”
Piñol who heads the North Cotabato FA said grassroots development remains a priority for the PFF as it tries to discover fresh talent who can be tapped to represent the country in the international level.
Dan Palami, the Leyte FA president who was also elected to the BOG, said the federation is faced with several challenges apart from the improvement of the national men’s team fondly called the Azkals.
“The big challenge is nurturing the interest in football and I think the institution of the national league certainly will spark interest on a regional based perspective,” said Palami, who also heads the national teams’ committee. “On a short term, we have to develop a strong marketing arm to market games to market sport and to attract more sponsors.”
Araneta said the hosting of the AFF Suzuki Cup next year should also spark interest for the sport.
“We should start preparations early and it should be a good occasion to focus showcase not just our football but our country,” said Araneta, referring to the most prestigious tournament in the region.