philippine football: learning through experience and moving forward

“published a year ago but sadly many of the reforms we aspired for remain just that, aspirations”

PASIG CITY, Philippines – The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) conducted its 4th Board of Governors’ meeting this year at the Philippine House of Football yesterday. A lot of the meeting was concerned with hearing from the various committees about the activities that have happened this year. The focus of the reports as well as that of the Governors were not just on the actual results of the various activities but more so on the mistakes that were committed, the lessons that were learned and the proposals for how to act going forward.

While there is a lot that is going right for Philippine Football, it is also important to bear in mind that this is, in reality, a transition year. The appointment of Nonong Araneta as PFF President only happened late last year and this appointment was affirmed (after all the legal and other challenges) early this year. This is why it is important to take advantage of the opportunity to learn from “growing up” pains, so to speak. There is a common thought that runs among the current set of PFF Governors which is that if we are going to do something, we have to do it right and do this right away.

The “self-assessment” meeting and the reports presented covered a gamut of topics which included competitions, grassroots development, national teams, coaches development and referee training. While the focus of many has been on the performance of our national teams, there is a concerted effort to improve the level of coaching, officiating and sport administration. Even as I write this, several of our coaches (both men and women) are currently overseas in various development programs.

Despite the myriad of activities, the PFF remains on solid financial footing. Through the first 8 months of the year, the federation continues to run a cash surplus. It is expected that PFF will end the year with a healthy surplus despite the expense of running its various programs which will likely exceed P100 million for this year alone.

A significant component of PFF’s cash inflows now come from its own revenue-generation measures as result of ticket sales from hosting international matches, marketing rights fees and merchandising revenues. This allows the PFF to diversify its sources of funding and improve its ability to sustain its programs.

To further strengthen its marketing efforts, the PFF Board of Governors approved a proposal by PFF President Nonong Araneta for the creation of a board-level Marketing Committee. The committee will be headed by PFF Governor, Leyte FA President and National Team Manager Dan Palami. The three-man committee will also include Laguna FA President and Finance Committee Head Jun Pacificador and PFF Treasurer Bonnie Ladrido. The committee is tasked with reviewing, consolidating and coordinating the marketing efforts of the federation.

The PFF Board also approved the selection of the site for a $500,000 training center in Valencia, Bukidnon.  This project will be funded by FIFA as part of the FIFA Goal Programme.  The proposal for the site has been forwarded to FIFA for approval.  If approved, construction is expected to start late this year or early next year.

Mr. Araneta also briefed the Board of Governors on an ambitious plan to partner with government institutions on a multi-year grassroots development program.  This will also tie into a bill in Congress being proposed by Rep. Walden Bello for sports development. The PFF is serving as a resource institution for Rep. Bello on his bill which the PFF has suggested should benefit all Philippine sports.

Other notable items brought up in the meeting included the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) for the PFF to upgrade the football-related facilities at the University of Life (UL) campus and the prospect of hosting up to 5 international matches for the Philippine Men’s Senior National team (“the Azkals”) in 2012.

The MOA with PSC calls for the PFF to fund the upgrade of facilities at UL in exchange for the rights to use these facilities. The approved plans include the installation of an artificial pitch on the UL field, upgrading the grandstand and bleachers and the renovation and refurbishment of some of the dormitories. The UL will serve as the training center for all the National Teams of the PFF. The new pitch and the ability to house our athletes in the dormitories should allow our players to upgrade their skills while at the same time creating an atmosphere conducive to building team cohesion. The PFF has estimated that the project will cost it P25 million. Work has already started and the dormitory refurbishment has almost been completed primarily through the efforts of Mr. Palami.

The international friendlies will follow the global schedule of FIFA. There are 5 windows in the FIFA calendar for next year allowing for these types of competitions. The teams that the PFF will invite to play will include both national teams and international clubs. First on tap will be a team from either the Segunda Division B or the Tercera Liga of Spain’s La Liga. This match is being eyed for the first week of January. The next identified match will be in the first week of June, 2012 where an invitation to Fulham (among others) of the English Premier League is expected to be extended. These plans are in the initial stages and the PFF will release updated information when they become available.

These matches as well as the efforts by the PFF to upgrade our country’s facilities serve to better prepare our national teams for international competition. The Azkals are scheduled to compete in the tournament finals of the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup in Nepal from March 3rd to the 18th. In December of 2012, the Azkals will compete in the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup which will be jointly hosted by Malaysia and Thailand.

There remains a lot of work to be done and it can be overwhelming at times but as many of us say, it’s all for the love of the beautiful game.

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2 Comments on “philippine football: learning through experience and moving forward”

  1. stellarboy says:

    As expected, the upgrading of facilities will be first in the list in the PFF. Although I still entirely disagree with selling the Rizal Memorial Stadium to private entities, I’m still hoping that more facilities such as stadia and training centers will be proposed and be built up as this sport is gaining ground more often.

    I’m glad that they are inviting clubs for friendlies next year, including those from Spain’s Segunda Division B or the Tercera Liga, and possibly, Fulham FC among other Barclays Premier League clubs.

    A lot has to be done for this so-called “transition year” for Philippine football. There’s still “growing up” pains but I believe this will be paid a hundredfold.

  2. Rex Raymond says:

    Happy to read all about these developments within the PFF. Sounds a lot like it is being run professionally and like a corporation, which can only augur well for the future. The more the local federations pull for each other rather than try to get ahead of each other to protect local/regional interests, the better for the future of football in this country. The Azkals’ success, without being disrespectful, is the talcum powder on the face; but the real face of Philippine football still has to be in the communities. Good to know that the federation is well aware of this!


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