pff continues task of building grassroots program

PASIG, Philippines – Even as the Philippine Men’s National Under-23 Team continues to train in Gotemba, Japan for the 2011 Southeast Asian Games, the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) continues to work to build up a credible and sustainable grassroots program. The importance of this cannot be stressed enough. The PFF acknowledges that it needs help with this given the uneven performance of its junior teams in recent competitions.

It is also notable that a significant number of the players currently in the U-23 pool training in Japan were identified during the 2011 PFF-Suzuki Cup Under-23 National Tournament held earlier this year. Many of them come from outside Metro Manila and would have, in the past, likely been overlooked without this tournament.

With the success of the PFF-Suzuki Cup this year, Suzuki and the PFF have expanded their relationship, with the automobile and motorbike company committing financial support to the SEA Games team. This was firmed up today at official contract signing ceremonies held at the Richmonde Hotel at Eastwood City. Suzuki was represented by its President – Satoshi Uchida, Managing Director and Treasurer Catalina “Lin” Calderon and the General Manager for Automotive Sales and Marketing Division – Shuzo Hoshikura. Signing in behalf of the behalf of the PFF were its President Mariano “Nonong” Araneta and Governor and National Team Manager Dan Palami. The ceremony was also witnessed by PFF Treasurer Bonnie Ladrido and Legal Counsel Ed Gastanes.

Suzuki also reiterated its support for the PFF-Suzuki Cup Under-23 National Tournament with a multi-year financial and logistics commitment. More than that, Mr. Uchida offered to further expand the relationship with a contemplated involvement in the PFF’s grassroots program.

On another front, the PFF has solicited the support of the DFB – the German Football Association – in assessing the state of our grassroots program and providing recommendations and guidance. The DFB has sent former Bundesliga coach Eckhard Krautzun to the Philippines to conduct this assessment. Herr Krautzun arrived in Manila on October 17th and met with PFF officials for an initial briefing. Mr. Krautzun will be in the Philippines until November 25th. He will be conducting meetings, assessment training camps and other related activities in Manila, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo and Bacolod over this next month. The PFF will be holding a press briefing on November 24th to relay the initial findings of Mr. Krautzun and convey next steps.

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la galaxy in the philippines

PASIG, Philippines – Plans are being made to bring the Los Angeles Galaxy to Manila to play the Philippine Men’s National Team (“the Azkals”) on Saturday, December 3rd at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. Tom Payne, President of Business Operations for the Galaxy will be in Manila this week to inspect the Stadium and conclude the negotiations. Philippine Football Federation (PFF) Governor and National Team Manager Dan Palami and Cathy Rivilla, Executive Director of the Younghusband Football Academy will be assisting Mr. Payne during his visit. The PFF and Men’s National Team Management will release a statement regarding the details of the exhibition match should the arrangements with Mr. Payne and the Galaxy be concluded successfully.


payatas kids play football to pursue dreams

By Natashya Gutierrez (on Twitter: @natashya_g)

MANILA, Philippines – The dusty field saw much action from a soccer tournament Saturday afternoon. Several goals were set up and players milled around in their jerseys waiting for their next match with anticipation.

It was a dramatic day.

One football club had lost three of its players in a span of one day to injuries, including a broken arm. A fight broke out in their semi-finals match, a match which led to a shootout, and which the team eventually lost. Tears of anger and frustration filled the players’ faces as their dreams of a Finals spot disappeared.

Earlier, the same team had scored the game’s first goal and their jubilation was comparable to celebrations in the World Cup. All emotions were. A player punched the ground after missing a shot. The referee was yelled at numerous times. Coaches shouted instructions to their team with intensity. There were fights, there were cheers, there were tears.

The difference was, this was a children’s tournament. The kids of this football club wore sneakers, not cleats, because they couldn’t afford it. Their jerseys were oversized, down to their knees, worn like dresses.

They are the Payatas Football Club.

Naomi Tomlinson, woman with a vision

On the sidelines stands Naomi Tomlinson, a petite, pleasant 20-year-old British. She is the co-director of the Fairplay For All Foundation (FFA) along with Roy Moore, another Brit who shares her vision. The Foundation aims to empower street children of the Philippines through football.

Thus, the birth of Payatas FC.

“It has so many benefits like growing confidence, communication, trust,” says Naomi, about the training camps they hold for the children every Saturday morning in a covered court in Payatas, Metro Manila’s largest dumpsite. From about eight months ago when it was first founded, the football club has come a long way.

Just last week, during British-Filipino Friendship Day, the children received uniforms and balls from Mitre, after the football brand sponsored a training session for the kids led by Azkals players James and Phil Younghusband. The team has also been invited to tournaments, offering them an opportunity to meet new people and compete with others their age.

They are blessed too, in the overflowing support literally poured over them by Naomi and Roy. When Naomi talks about the children, one can hear the pride and happiness in her voice. She is smiling from ear-to-ear and the pride she exudes is that of a parent.

“Neither of us get paid for what we do,” she says. “So sometimes it’s like, I’m so broke. But then you get a hug from a little kid, or you see a smile. They’re so grateful for it that it just pays you. It’s so unbelievably rewarding.”

Femme fatale Angelica Sagum

The U-10 team of Payatas FC cruised their way to the semifinals, largely due to the efforts of 10-year-old superstar Angelica Sagum. She is the only girl in the team full of boys.

Angelica is shy and reserved when interviewed, but Naomi said, she is one of the most energetic and outspoken on the field. She scored two goals in this tournament alone, and hopes to be appointed team captain. One of the over 100 children who showed up in FFA’s first training camp, Angelica has been going ever since.

When not on the field, Angelica goes to church or attends school as a third-grader, but she admits that she finds the most joy in soccer, even when they lose.

Hindi naman po [ako nalulungkot pag natatalo kami] kasi po masaya rin po maglaro ng soccer kahit hindi kami nananalo,” she says. (I don’t get sad when we lose because it’s also fun to play soccer even when we don’t win.)

Asked why she loves the sport, she sits for a while in silence, and finally looks up, “Marami po akong napupuntahang ibang lugar (I get to visit a lot of new places),” Angelica says with a smile.

Next Azkal Ricardo Ocampo

He munched on junk food after the semi-finals game, his eyes still red from a disappointing loss. He knows they could have won, he says. Football to 11-year-old Ricardo Ocampo is his passion. He loves it because he gets to spend time with his friends and it takes his mind off things.

Panlibang (distraction),” he says when asked why he plays.

The third of four siblings, he is the only one who plays football, and Ricardo, who plays defender for the Payatas FC U-12 team takes his job seriously. He explains that while his idols are Azkals Chieffy Caligdong and Angel Guirado because of their ability to bring up the ball on the pitch, he says his role for his team is to help the goalie guard the goal.

He tries his best not to miss a single practice.

While introduced to the sport only through Roy, Ricardo’s skills on the field are stellar. He dreams of playing for the Azkals one day, but for now, he is working on another dream.

” [Sanamanalo po [kamilagi,” he says. “Para magkaroon ng mukha ang Payatas, hindi lagi yung sinasabi na basura lang ang Payatas.” (I hope we always win so that Payatas can have a face different from that always associated with just garbage.)”

The Fairplay For All Foundation works to empower the street children of the Philippines. Registered in the UK and funded as Triple E (registration number 1141362), Fairplay for All (FFA) runs football teams in Kasiglahan and Payatas as a way to develop the community and raise awareness through football, after the rise in popularity of the Azkals, the national men’s team of the Philippines. Payatas is the largest dumpsite in Manila where tens of thousands of people live scavenging for things to sell, recycle and even eat.

FFA is also opening a drop-in centre for street children in order to assess their situation on a case-by-case basis. Providing for the nutrition of street children, to break drug dependency (particularly rugby), basic education will continue their learning and provide a platform to assess their situation. With a fully qualified and experienced social worker we will then look to provide full-time residential care, education sponsorship, or micro-financing depending on the reason for the child being on the streets. As such, FFA looks to enable, encourage and empower street children and raise awareness of the poverty of communities to promote Fairplay on and off the pitch.

FFA is on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fairplay-For-All-Foundation/163370857062294?sk=wall


match report: philippines vs malaysia (aff women’s championship 2011)

by Coach Ernie Nierras

We dominated this game. Unfortunately we suffered some key injuries, that forced us to make some unplanned substitutions. Even with 10 players, we kept on pushing forward. We could have played defensively during the 2nd half, with only 10 players, but I told the Malditas to keep on attacking. We played 3-4-2 part of the first half. and the whole 2nd half. Malaysia was able to score on a shot from our left side. The 2nd goal was a busted play down the middle.

It was an option to play 4-4-1 defend for 48 min, but I decided against that. I did not want our team to feel that Malaysia had the upper hand, being a man down. It did not help our cause that we suffered injuries to our right back, and center holding mid. This forced us to scramble people around so that we could continue to execute our game plan. The 2nd goal of Malaysia kicked some life into our players.We started attacking more, and running back like crazy just to defend. It showed the true character of this team. In the face of adversity, they did not surrender.

We equalized on the 83rd through a penalty kick. Even before our 2nd goal we had a few good chances to score more goals, but Malaysia held firm.

Malaysia suffered some injuries also. They lost their GK on the 25th min.

The team is totally devastated. We even stayed back and discussed what went wrong. I told them, let us learn from this experience, and move forward. I told them that the pain they are feeling will eventually go away. What we need to do now is to train harder and prepare for the next challenge. What is important is that they were able to regroup and tie the game.


match report: philippines vs thailand (aff women’s championship 2011)

by Coach Ernie Nierras

VIENTIANE, Laos -Thailand played a complete game today. We were able to contain their attacks and counter for much of the first half. They only had 6 attempts on goal, unfortunately they converted 3 of them. The first was a shot outside the penalty box that bounced of the crossbar (miscommunication with our mids). The second goal came from a diagonal pass from #3, which was converted by #5 (beautiful diagonal pass). Our plan was to shutdown #3. We did for much of the match, except of that one pass she completed to #5. The last goal was a total mistake on our side. We won the ball inside the penalty box, but as we tried to counter, our striker misplaced a back pass to #10 of Thailand. It was a point blank shot at goal which our Gk could not save. We could not move the ball offensively during the first half. Thailand was simply far superior technically.

The 2nd half was a different story. Thailand did not ease up. The game became very physical. The ref issued 5 yellow cards during the 2nd half. Thailand only had 4 attempts on goal and we had 3. They converted 2, and we scored on a set play from 40 yards out. The Thai GK could not control a dipper by Amamio. Heather, Sam and Camille followed up on the shot, and Sam scored the goal. This was one time that we were able to execute our set play. The game was very physical during the 2nd half. Marielle Benitez pulled her groin during one of those encounters. There were too many cheap shots from Thailand. I told our girls to fight back, and fight they did. They did not let up, nor did Thailand. They were so pissed with our players, they did not bother to shake their hands after the match. Our girls showed their class by congratulating the Thai bench.

Lots of lessons learned from this match. I was not as upset as the Myanmar game. I told the girls that I was very proud of how they played Thailand. They gave it everything. Unlike the Myanmar match, which I totally believe, we gave away (the refereeing being a major contributor). This match was different. It was dogfight in the 2nd half, and a tactical one during the 1st half.

I guess Thailand liked how we played them. They invited us to come over early 2012 for friendlies. We graciously accepted, and requested that Laos and Vietnam join us during the friendlies. The last time we played Thailand the score was 12-0. The best complement we got, was when a Thai official said that they’ve never played a team who tried to attack them as much as our team. He said the first half was much closer than the score line. I told him, I agree with him 100%. The Thai TV station even interviewed a few of our players after the game. I believe that this will be a rivalry in the making. I am sure that even if the invitation was for a friendly match, they expect us to go after them again. We will oblige their request.

For now I have to admit that Thailand outclassed us in this match. When we meet Thailand next year, our Malditas will be 3 international games smarter, and with an axe to grind!