an interview on the state and challenges that face philippine football

This interview will appear in the souvenir issue of Football Philippines magazine which will be distributed at the Philippines vs. LA Galaxy match. Much thanks to Angelico Mercader and Football Philippines for allowing me to post this on my blog.

 

Photo courtesy of Football Philippines @ http://www.facebook.com/footballph

Football Philippines (FP): How do you see the LA Galaxy match affecting football in the country, the performance of our national team, and the support of Filipinos for the sport? Do you see more international friendlies such as this in the coming years?

Bonnie Ladrido (BL): The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) is obviously enthused at having the Los Angeles Galaxy play against our Men’s National Team (“the Azkals”) in Manila. We could not have foreseen at the start of this year the prospect of this match capping off a year which has seen a tremendous leap not just in the progress of our team but more so the meteoric rise in the popularity of the game in our country. It will have a tremendous impact in terms of the collective consciousness of Filipino sports fans.

The Azkals look forward to playing this match against the recently crowned Major League Soccer champions. When the negotiations to bring the Galaxy over became public, we had several of our players lobbying to make this happen. This will obviously be a great experience for them as well. While the game itself will have no bearing on our FIFA ranking, our players will be in this not just to play but to win the match.

It is our fervent hope that this match against the Galaxy will continue to firm up the foundations that have been laid this year and generate even more support and more important, participation in the game in the Philippines. This will be a necessary step towards attracting a wider base of players from which we could select fresh talent for our various national teams. The PFF is already in the process of cementing a grassroots program which will be launched next year with the aim of qualifying for the 2019 FIFA Under-17 World Cup. This program will provide the infrastructure which will allow us to capture much of the increased interest as a result of this match as well as the popularity of the Azkals.

It is no secret that for us to improve, our teams will have to play more matches. So yes, the PFF will take advantage of the scheduling windows in the FIFA calendar to organize more international friendlies on home soil. For 2012, we are eyeing at least 2 and maybe 3 international friendlies in the Philippines. With the proper infrastructure in place, the PFF also hopes, at some point, to host matches in other areas of the country.

FP: What are some of the significant highlights of the year that you would consider milestones for Philippine Football and why?

BL: This was a historical year for Philippine football. Some of the more memorable moments included:

  1. The victory over Mongolia at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod;
  2. The advancement of the Azkals to the final stage of the Challenge Cup which will be held in Nepal in March of next year;
  3. The holding of national level tournaments including the Smart Club Championships, the Suzuki Cup Under-23 Championships and the Under-19 National Championships;
  4. The victory over Sri Lanka in the first round of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil qualifiers (the first time we had advanced to the second round ever);
  5. Our hosting of 2 World Cup qualifying matches for the first time in over 10 years;
  6. The renovation of the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium for which the PFF and its corporate partners invested over P9 million;
  7. The signing of a multi-million peso broadcast contract by the United Football League with TV5/AKTV bringing live coverage of league matches for millions of Filipinos;
  8. The approval by FIFA under its Goal Project program of two (University of Life and Valencia, Bukidnon) projects providing $1 million for new facilities;
  9. The signing of corporate partnership programs with Smart Communications, Air21 and the MVP Sports Foundation providing over P100 million in financial support over the next 10 years;
  10. The arrival of Eckhardt Krautzen, a recognized expert in grassroots development, to assess the state of the game in our country and provide direction towards a credible and sustainable grassroots development program for the Philippines;
  11. The LA Galaxy match; and,
  12. The election of Mariano Araneta, Jr. to a 4-year term as PFF President.

More than the individual significance of each milestone, the contribution of each to the totality of what has happened is what is more significant. All these as well as other less luminous events point to a dynamism which football has not had in the Philippines. These serve to provide a momentum that with the proper direction and support can only lead to even greater heights for the beautiful game in our country.

We must also remember the setbacks that we encountered during the year. While I do not wish to dwell on these, it is important to learn lessons from these shortcomings to complement the lessons learned from the things that went right. There will always be challenges and we remain a distance from where we would like to be. The PFF remains grounded and aware that there is a lot of work that still needs to be done. It is this humility with which we admit to our mistakes and accept constructive criticism which will make us work even harder.

FP: How do you see the coming year for Philippine Football? What concrete steps is PFF taking to further develop the sport?

BL: The key to strengthening and building on what we achieved this year will be the launch of our grassroots program. We have to be able to take advantage of the fact that we are a nation that is 90 million strong. While the assessment of Mr. Krautzen pointed to the lack of facilities and equipment as well as the need for a more determined coaching development program, he also highlighted the natural talent of the Filipino in terms of our inherent agility and speed. The PFF will begin to institutionalize the framework for this grassroots program for us to have a greater chance of harnessing the innate talent of the Filipino and hopefully find the next Chieffy Caligdong, Ian Araneta or Ali Borromeo.

FP: What do you think are some of the important challenges that PFF must be able to address?

BL: The lack of facilities and equipment is the most obvious and tangible candidate among the challenges that the Federation faces. FIFA development representatives were in Manila last week and presented to the PFF a wide range of options which the PFF could tap to address this particular challenge. The PFF, however, remains cognizant of the fact that we have to help ourselves to spur facility development and the provision of equipment at a faster pace. This is where the PFF’s corporate sponsorship programs come in. Thus, it is critical that the PFF continue to guard its integrity and maintain the hard-won trust of its corporate partners by being transparent and professional in its actions. The PFF also needs to be able to widen its revenue base by building its nascent merchandising efforts. All these plans will not come cheap but we remain committed to investing in the game and will do what can be done to speed the process along while hopefully avoiding crass commercialism.

FP: How would you describe the positive financial support that PFF and football in general is getting from sponsors, and how would you attribute this to both the popularity of the sport and the confidence in PFF’s management/leadership?

BL: The PFF is grateful and a little overwhelmed by the outpouring of support that the game has received in this past year. The PFF was able to raise about P26 million, about one-fourth of its budget, from corporate partners. We admit that in terms of the growth of the sport, this has mostly been driven by the popularity of the Azkals. The Federation’s role has mostly been to provide the resources to put our teams in a position where they can be successful.

We also know enough not to take all of these for granted. We also know that there remain a lot of things that need to be done. The continued professionalization of the PFF’s organization remains a key initiative. The rationalization of the Federation’s internal processes will continue. The mindset of being transparent remains in place.

At the end of the day, we hope people understand and glean from our actions that the current leadership of the PFF does what it does to protect the integrity of the game, promote the game for all and work to make things better. We do what we do not for anything else other than our own love for the beautiful game. We do not ask for recognition or reward. We remain our own worst critics and the opportunity to serve the game and the Filipino nation is more than enough reward for most of us.


part TWO of my football story: stepping back from the abyss of azkal mania

Bundled up in Mongolia

March, 2011

As the appointment to the position of PFF Treasurer is made by the PFF’s Board of Governors (BOG), it took a while for my joining the PFF to happen as the next BOG meeting was scheduled at the end of April. Nonong essentially had to ask individual members of the BOG for authority to make an interim appointment in my case until this could be formalized at the BOG meeting. I also surmised that with Nonong’s own appointment as PFF President continuing to be challenged by the ousted president, he did not want to act unilaterally.

In the meantime, I had started to ask questions about the circumstances surrounding the departure of the previous president and treasurer. Upon the advice of well-meaning friends, it was imperative that I at least know what I was getting into. This was a little difficult at first because there were so many stories floating around. The people at the PFF were also thick into the preparations for the first leg of the Challenge Cup match at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod against Mongolia.

Eventually I gathered that the alleged financial shenanigans involved the siphoning off of about P3.1 million from the PFF coffers. This only includes the amount which could be documented to form the basis of a legal case meaning that the total amount involved could actually have been more. The money was transferred to the personal account of the PFF Treasurer for what was termed as “safekeeping”. When the PFF started missing the payment of bills, the BOG through its Finance Committee launched an investigation which uncovered the transfer of funds. When asked to explain, the president and the treasurer only made vague references to the amount being in investments. The two were asked to return the money to the PFF and when they were unable to do so, the BOG voted to remove them from office. A civil case is currently pending in court against the previous treasurer. The BOG opted to defer the filing of a case against the previous president for humanitarian reasons after learning of his serious health problems. (Note: I am only able to write about this as the filing of a court case makes this information publicly available. The respondents are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law).

I eventually began work at the PFF in the first week of March. I also got to meet the new Finance Committee Chairman Jun Pacificador of the Laguna FA who was instrumental in many of the initiatives that we were able to implement. The first task was to assess the true financial state of the Federation and what I found was initially bleak. Bills from the hosting of the match against Mongolia were coming due and funds were forthcoming but as of yet, unavailable. We had to scramble a bit by rescheduling some of these bills and we were eventually able to secure assistance from the Presidential Management Staff to tide us over. This was the only direct financial support that the PFF received from the government and while significant at that time given our precarious financial state, it eventually ended up accounting for less than 2% of what the PFF spent for the year.

The second task was to assess the procedural protocols of the Federation in the release of funds. The objective was two-fold. The first was to find out where the deficiencies were and how these led to the problems of the previous administration and secondly, to set up policies and procedures to ensure that the chances of this happening again would be minimized.

Two important things happened or were happening around this time. The first was the signing of the partnership agreement with Smart Communications which facilitated the release of P8 million which was budgeted for the Smart Club Championships, support for the national team and grassroots programs. This helped significantly alleviate our funding issues which at this time was focused on supporting the Men’s National Team. The Azkals were in Japan preparing for the second leg of their Challenge Cup match against Mongolia this time in UlaanBataar. This was the other important thing.

Fresh from their thrashing of Mongolia during the match in Bacolod, the team was in high spirits heading into the second leg. Nonong had invited me to accompany him (at my expense, of course) to Mongolia. The day before our departure, Japan suffered the disastrous earthquake and the tsunami that it unleashed. One of the hardest hit cities was Fukushima. Our team was supposed to have trained in the Fukushima facility of the Japanese Football Association (JFA). Through some twist of fate, our team ended up instead in Gotemba as the Fukushima Training Center was unavailable.

Our team, though shaken, was okay. We did have a couple of players who got stuck on their planes (Simon Greatwich and I forget the other one) which landed as or soon after the earthquake hit. Through the remarkable effort of the JFA, our team was eventually able to leave for Mongolia two days before the match. I related some of the experiences with the earthquake as well as Ray Jonsson’s 30-hour odyssey to Mongolia in a previous post – the philippine azkals and their continuing search for home. Our group which included Nonong, Dan Palami and some of our players’ parents was finally able to leave for Mongolia on the day before the match.

Mongolia was cold. After a long flight from Manila via Incheon, we arrived in UlaanBataar – the capital of Mongolia close to midnight. It was probably 20 degrees below zero. Our exit from the terminal was also delayed by Mongolian officials initially denying entry to Ray Jonsson as I relate in a previous post. Upon our arrival at our hotel, we were met by Philippine camera crews with their bright lights who had arrived earlier and were seeking interviews with Nonong, Dan and Ray.

The game was set at midday purportedly to take advantage of “warmer” conditions. As most things in the world are, everything is relative. “Warmer” in the Mongolian winter meant 5 degrees below zero. I woke up early and joined the team for breakfast. At the team meeting after breakfast, I was first introduced to the team. The meeting was largely handled by Coach Michael Weiss with the assistance of Chieffy Caligdong who did the overview of the offense and goalkeeper Eduard Sacapano who did the defense. After a light lunch, we were off to the stadium.

The stadium wasn’t particularly large – maybe 10,000 capacity. I sat in the stands with about 50 other loud and raucous Filipinos. That was apparently half the number of Filipinos in UlaanBataar. These OFWs toil in the frozen tundra of Mongolia as accountants for the mining companies, as entertainers and in other service industries. After the game, some players even walked into a restaurant with a Filipino band playing.

Our team got off to an awesome start when James Younghusband scored in the 4th minute. It was downhill from there, however, as the biting cold took the measure of our players. A couple of defensive lapses led to a penalty and another goal. We lost 2-1 but it could have been worse had it not been for the otherwise stellar play of Eduard in goal in place of the unavailable Neil Etheridge.

While the result allowed our team to advance to the next round of the competition due to having scored more goals (we won 2-0 in Bacolod) in the two-leg match, the mood in the team bus on the way back to the hotel was depressingly quiet. Despite the conditions and the challenges of getting to UlaanBataar in the aftermath of the earthquake in Japan, the team felt it should have won this game.

We arrived in Manila two days later at around 1 am. This was after another eventful trip back which almost had Ray missing our connecting flight in Beijing.

Waiting in Manila were KPMG auditors who had come to inspect the PFF’s books in the wake of the previously mentioned financial improprieties. FIFA provides the PFF and all other national football associations with $250,000 annually under its Financial Assistance Program (FAP). The use of FAP funds is strictly regulated. It can only be used for certain items. This was what the auditors were checking up on. Their report to FIFA would determine whether the PFF was going to receive its FAP allotment for 2011.

The problem was that the PFF could not really challenge the findings of the auditors which did point to the irregularities. The facts are the facts – so to speak. The PFF BOG had used these same irregularities as the basis for the removal of the previous president and the previous treasurer. I eventually answered their request for comment by saying that while we agreed with the findings, the new PFF administration should not be held liable for acts committed over which it had no control over. We included in the letter the actions taken by the PFF which included the removal of the officials responsible and the codification of policies and procedures meant to address the structural deficiencies which led to the misappropriation of the funds.

FIFA eventually agreed to release the FAP funds after finding merit in our position.

The Blue-Haired Fanatic at NSG

Our team went to the next stage of the Challenge Cup in Myanmar. This successful campaign included one win and two draws. The result allowed us to move to the final round of the Challenge Cup to be held in Nepal in March of next year. It was also around this time that the Kaholeros were born.

The Challenge Cup games in Myanmar were only shown on a delayed basis due to restrictions imposed by the host country. My brother invited me to watch the replay of the final game against Bangladesh at the National Sports Grill (NSG) in Greenbelt. He, in turn, had been invited by Ebong Joson aka “the Blue-Haired Fanatic”. Ebong and my brother had watched the game in Bacolod together. It was in Bacolod where Ebong in his blue-wigged regalia ran across the Panaad pitch (a big NO NO) and was briefly detained by the police in their own full-battle gear. After his brief detention, Ebong went on the crash the victory party of the team later that night.

I had always harbored the idea that our team should have a dedicated booster squad. My model was Sam’s Army – the booster squad of the US Men’s National Soccer Team. Members of Sam’s Army travel the world in their distinctive colors to watch and cheer for the American team. My first thought was to maybe just have a school-based booster squad (e.g. the Blue Babble Battalion) play this role at least for our home matches.

Seeing Ebong at NSG that night, however – something just clicked. Who better to lead and form the Azkals booster squad than someone who actually got arrested in the exercise of his fanaticism. While his alleged inebriated state at that time may have slightly impaired his mental faculties – still :-). Whatever the case may be, I ended up asking Ebong whether he wanted to do this. Ebong’s reaction was like a fish taking to water, a bird learning to fly, etcetera, etcetera – in other words, it was a natural. The rest, as they say, is history. The Kaholeros have grown to become a force of 500 at our home matches with chapters all over the country and even in Singapore. Great job Mr. Fanatic!

Finally, at the end of March, the draw for the Asian Preliminaries for the 2014 FIFA World Cup was held. We had drawn Sri Lanka as our opponent in the first round. We were going to host a World Cup Qualification match – the first one in over 10 years. The question was – where?


LA Galaxy Announce Travel Roster for Asia Pacific Tour 2011

David Beckham before the first annual COPA Min...

Image via Wikipedia

From: “Galaxy Communications” <galaxycommunications@lagalaxy.com>

Date: Sat, 26 Nov 2011 16:26:54 -0800

Subject: LA Galaxy Announce Travel Roster for Asia Pacific Tour 2011

NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Galaxy Communications

Patrick Donnelly (310) 630-2214 – pdonnelly@lagalaxy.com

Justin Pearson (310) 630-2216 – jpearson@lagalaxy.com

Jaime Cárdenas (310) 630-2215 – jcardenas@lagalaxy.com

 

LA GALAXY ANNOUNCE TRAVEL ROSTER FOR ASIA PACIFIC TOUR 2011

CARSON, Calif. (Saturday, November 26, 2011) – The MLS Cup 2011 champion LA Galaxy today announced their travel roster for the upcoming Asia Pacific Tour 2011, presented by Herbalife. The club departs tonight for Jakarta, Indonesia for the start of the three-nation tour, which will see the Galaxy play in Jakarta on Wednesday, November 30, in Manila, Philippines on December 3 and in Melbourne, Australia on December 6.

A total of 27 of the 30 players that helped the Galaxy win MLS Cup 2011 last week will be a part of the Asia Pacific Tour, with only the injured Sean Alvarado, Chad Barrett and Leonardo not flying with the club to Indonesia tonight. The roster is highlighted by MLS Best XI selections David Beckham, Landon Donovan, who was also the MLS Cup MVP, Todd Dunivant and 2011 MLS Defender of the Year Omar Gonzalez, as well as postseason heroes A.J. DeLaGarza, Robbie Keane, Mike Magee, Josh Saunders and more.

The Asia Pacific Tour will open in Jakarta on Wednesday, November 30 when the Galaxy will face the Indonesia National Team at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium. Three days later, the club will travel to Manila to face the Philippines National Team at Rizal Memorial Stadium on Saturday, December 3. This will be the first appearance by the Galaxy in both Indonesia and Philippines.

Following those games, the Galaxy will head to Australia where they will conclude their three-game tour against Melbourne Victory of the Hyundai A-League in the Hyundai Melbourne Challenge. That game will be played at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne on Tuesday, December 6.

LA Galaxy Roster for Asia Pacific Tour 2011 presented by Herbalife

GOALKEEPERS (3) – Brian Perk, Donovan Ricketts, Josh Saunders

DEFENDERS (8) – Gregg Berhalter, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant, Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, Frankie Hejduk, Dasan Robinson, Ryan Thomas

MIDFIELDERS (12) – David Beckham, Chris Birchall, Paolo Cardozo, Landon Donovan, Hector Jimenez, Bryan Jordan, Juninho, Dan Keat, Jovan Kirovski, Mike Magee, Dustin McCarty, Michael Stephens

FORWARDS (4) – Adam Cristman, Robbie Keane, Miguel Lopez, Jack McBean

HEAD COACH – Bruce Arena

For more information about the Galaxy’s Asia Pacific Tour 2011, presented by Herbalife, please visit the club’s official website at www.lagalaxy.com.

— LA Galaxy presented by Herbalife —

 

 


 

 

— LA Galaxy presented by Herbalife —


part one of my football story: stepping back from the abyss of azkal mania

My term as the Treasurer of the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) officially ended today. The past twelve months seem to have gone quite fast. It has been a year that has been equally exhilirating at times and frustrating at times. I tried to walk away a couple of times but the pull of the love for the game always brought me back. As I walk away from the Federation this one last time, I have allowed myself to think that a lot of good has been done. The PFF is in the best financial condition in its history with the ability to sustain established and new development programs. There remains a lot work to be done but there will be other equally qualified, if not, better people who will push the beautiful game forward. There are a lot of stories that can be told about this year and this is mine.

Working the World Cup Qualifier versus Kuwait with Assistant General Coordinator JP Demontano

December, 2010

December 7, 2010. My football story begins on the 69th anniversary of that day which will live in infamy.

Key executives of companies associated with Manuel V. Pangilinan (MVP) were gathered at the MERALCO boardroom for my presentation on a new company that their companies were going to be co-owners of. While waiting for MVP and several others to arrive, idle chit-chat turned into a semi-serious discussion about the Azkals and Philippine Football.

The discussion was brought about by a question from one of the executives about what the term “Azkals” meant.  This discussion eventually evolved into several of these high-powered corporate CEOs saying that this should be a sport which we (the MVP group) should be supporting.

The discussion continued when MVP came arrived for the meeting. Eventually as the repartee started to die down, I cut it short so I could do my presentation which was why these gentlemen who control over P1 trillion in assets were gathered in the first place.

I had to leave for the United States the day after the meeting to spend time with my family over the Christmas holidays. I didn’t really think much about the conversation over football that happened in that meeting. That is until one day I read in one of the online newspapers that MVP was putting in P1 million to support the Philippine Football Federation (PFF). In statements announcing the financial support, MVP also encouraged other companies to pledge assistance for Philippine football.

The pledge from MVP was eventually increased to P80 million which was to be spread over 10 years. In addition, Air 21 Express also pledged P21 million also to spread out over 10 years.

January, 2011

Upon coming back to the Philippines after holidays, I immediately asked my bosses at PLDT whether I could somehow volunteer my services to this initiative. This request to volunteer was driven by nothing more than the desire to help.

I am from Iloilo where football is what basketball is to most of the rest of the country. I started playing at the age of 5 when I was in kindergarten. All we really did was chase and kick a ball around a field. It eventually gravitated into a more structured manner brought about by the sport being a staple among our PE classes.

I played varsity high school football for three years. During those years, I played against some of the best teams that the country produced – Central Philippine University (CPU), Barotac Nuevo National Comprehensive High School, St. Paul’s School of Barotac Nuevo and Santa Barbara National Comprehensive High School. The CPU team that we played in the Coke Go for Goal Tournament in 1989 went on to claim the National Championship.

I continued to play during my college years primarily in an intra-university tournament called the Latagaw Cup in UP – Diliman. Eventually as I entered professional life, my involvement with football tapered off. I would continue to play the odd tournament here and there. In 1999, I was one of two Filipinos selected to play in the Asian selection to the Paribas Global Championship held in Zurich, Switzerland.

I left for the United States to go to business school in 2000. I didn’t get to play much during my 10 years in the US other than the odd pick-up game here and there. Appearances to the contrary, football or soccer as they call it, is big in the US. This is particularly true at the youth level primarily through the American Youth Soccer Organization or AYSO. AYSO programs reach across every nook and cranny of the United States producing players that eventually play for US National Teams.

I eventually came back to the Philippines in September, 2009. I didn’t really pay much attention to the goings-on in Philippine football except to watch and eventually play games for my current club – the Manila Football Club (MFC). Having been away for so long, I wasn’t really aware nor really felt the need to keep track of what was happening with the game in the Philippines.

I did know about the Younghusband brothers after the hope that they brought to the sport in the country with their participation in the 2005 Southeast Asian Games. As many of us know, their relative success didn’t really sustain itself given the problems that even now continue to cast a dark cloud over the development of the game in the country.

Then the Azkals burst into the scene in a big way with their success in the Suzuki Cup and the Challenge Cup. Like most in the country, I was again drawn to pay more attention to Philippine football with the publicity generated by our national team.

To cut a long story short, my bosses at PLDT allowed me to approach the PFF to volunteer in my personal capacity. This was premised on spending one day of my work week with the PFF and more important – not taking any monetary benefit from the Federation. Volunteer work lang talaga.

Newly-appointed PFF President Mariano V. Araneta, Jr. or Nonong just happened to be a former student of my mom’s at the UP Visayas High School. My mom is like a phone directory of UP Visayas alumni. If she didn’t have anyone’s phone number with her she could always certainly get it in no time. In short, I got Nonong’s number from my mom.

February, 2011

Nonong and I finally met over lunch in early February of this year. At that time, I really had no position in mind. All I wanted to do was find out how I could help. It just so happened that the PFF was needing a Treaurer. The previous one was booted out of the Federation after alleged improprieties governing the financial transactions of the PFF were discovered. Nonong asked me if I was interested. Having worked in financial services for close to 20 years, this was right along my alley. I signified my interest pending a further appreciation on my part of the issues facing the PFF. I did not want to take the position blind – so to speak. Moreover, I also wanted to first make paalam from MVP to make sure there would be no prospective conflicts of interest.

(To be continued)…


grassroots development gets a new hero!

PFF Festival of Football Photo courtesy of Coach Oliver Colina

by Ed Travis @ www.pff-g.com

I was very fortunate to be able to attend a press conference at the offices of the PFF yesterday. There, we had the opportunity to hear the PFF grassroots consultant, Mr. Eckhard Krautzun, speak about the results of his study and recommendations about ways to improve the development of football here. His insights were fantastic and very helpful, and should greatly benefit the development of football here in the Philippines. His discussion will be the subject of future posts. However, I thought it would be good to give everyone some information about this football legend from Germany, who has come here to help us.

Eckhard began playing football when he was five years old, kicking around cans and makeshift balls in a Germany ravaged by the effects of WW2. They had little equipment and less organization, so Eckhard must surely have been a gifted athlete to rise to become a member of several national youth teams of the D.F.B.  From ’63 to ’66 he was a member of the German Olympic team, while earning his diploma in football instruction at the German Sportscollege in Cologne. He then commenced a brief professional career playing at the top level of the German Bundesliga until a knee injury ended his playing career when still in his late ’20s. However, this was the time when Eckhard began coaching teams – and his influence quickly had an impact in all the teams he coached. Here are just a few highlights of his great accomplishments –

  • ’68-70 : First coaching job as National Team Coach for South Korea, Leading them to second in the Asian Youth Championships, and leading the senior team to a similar second place finish;
  • ’72-74 : Recommended by FIFA to become the National Team Coach in Kenya, becoming winners of the East Africa Challenge Cup and semifinalists in the Africa Cup;
  • ’79-82 : Head Coach for the NASL Fort Lauderdale Strikers, playing against the New York Cosmos in the final championship;
  • Coached several teams in the Bundesliga over many years, including the capture of the German FA cup in 1997 with I.F.C. Kaiserslautern;
  • Performed grassroots evaluation and led courses for FIFA around the world in developing nations such as Morocco, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, New Zealand, and the Fiji Islands;
  • National Team Coach for the Philippines in 1991, where the team had fantastic results reaching the semifinals of the SEA Games against Thailand, having beaten regional powerhouses Viet Nam and Malaysia along the way;
  • ’04-08 : Adviser and Coach of various national teams in China including the Olympic team, Chinese Women’s World Cup Teams, and the U-20 youth teams.

We as a country are very fortunate to be able to host Eckhard here once again, and benefit from his deep global insight into making football a success in developing nations. Future blogs will share some of those insights and details of his recommendations for the Philippines.


mira! mira! (look! look!) – (the) joint statement of workers, operators and concerned agencies on the promotion of public transport safety

Traffic Squad Police (LOC)

Image by The Library of Congress

TANAUAN, Philippines – I used to have a driver. As a consultant with multiple clients, I was advised that having one would be a good investment to minimize the stress of having to drive from one office to another. In the end I had to let go of the driver. I had to endure even more stress having to observe how he drove. It’s not as if I didn’t try to coach him. At the end of the day, I realized that bad driving habits picked up from having learned to drive on the street were just too hard to break.

The “devil may care” attitude towards driver licensing in the Philippines is one which in and of itself is a safety issue. The lack of education on traffic rules and regulations is a recipe for disaster. When people get caught violating traffic rules and plead ignorance of the law, we can scream “ignorance of the law is no excuse” all we want but this abdication of responsibility by government is abhorrent.

Sometimes when you see motorists violating rules you silently scream to yourself – “ang garapal niyo, walang hiya”. I have since realized that the premise for such a reaction may not actually be present. Developing a conscience or “hiya” implies knowledge of traffic rules and regulations. In many cases, a motorist may not necessarily know the rules.

Rules are meant to regulate behavior. In the case of driving, these rules are meant to regulate behavior which may impinge on road safety. It is hard, however, if not close to impossible to impress upon motorists the safety implications of conforming to traffic rules when they are not aware of the rules themselves because of our inadequate licensing system.

Driving this morning from Makati to Tanauan, I couldn’t help but be dismayed at the number of vehicles I observed which did not have their lights on in the pouring rain. Driving with your lights on when it rains is standard driving procedure not necessarily because the driver may not be able to see but more so that other motorists are able to see you. Imagine the protocol for having to change lanes – you activate your turn signal, you look at your side mirror, quickly turn your head to check your blind spot, gauge whether it’s safe to move to the adjacent lane and the gradually ease into that lane. It would be difficult to see an oncoming vehicle in the adjacent lane on your side mirror when it doesn’t have its headlights on when it rains.

What makes this even more complicated in the Philippines is that very few have any idea about road courtesy. In other countries, an oncoming vehicle in the lane you are moving to would slow down and flash his headlights to signal that he is giving way and allowing you to proceed. In the Philippines, it is more likely that the oncoming driver would speed up, cut you off and flash his headlights (opposite of convention in many civilized countries) as if to say the “F” word.

Even more disconcerting was the way drivers behaved with no apparent regard for the wet and slippery road conditions. This included tailgating and driving at unsafe speeds. Even under ideal driving conditions there is a safe distance between two vehicles. This distance will be dictated by a combination of factors including the speed at which you and others are driving, the weight of your vehicle and road conditions themselves. The objective is always to allow enough distance to mitigate the gravity of accidents when such occurs in front of you.

There also seems to be a lack of appreciation for being aware of one’s environment when driving. I always thought when I was a kid that whenever my dad would look at the rear-view mirror that he was somehow keeping watch over me. I have since come to realize that he was checking what was behind him while also regularly glancing at the side mirrors as well as what was in front. The point being that in case something happens you always know the best way how to react given the information that you’ve already processed. It is also wise, though difficult in the Philippines, to anticipate driver behavior. As I’ve said in the past, driving is not just about putting a key into the ignition slot and mindlessly pointing a vehicle in the direction you’d like it to go.

Last Friday, several government agencies and those in the public transport sector signed the impressively worded “Joint Statement of Workers, Operators, and Concerned Agencies on the Promotion of Public Transport Safety”. The focus was on giving bus drivers salaries instead of commissions as compensation. This was a result of surveys and FGDs attributing the risk-taking behavior of bus drivers to factors which boil down to how they make money. The statement contains several other non-compensation related pledges including:

  1. the conduct of training on safety and health in the bus transport sector;
  2. the development and administration of a competency-based driver training program that includes, but is not limited to road safety, basic troubleshooting, and road traffic rules and regulations;
  3. the conduct of productivity training on service quality and perform work improvement measurement studies (or time and motion studies);
  4. the rationalization of bus franchises such that these are in accordance with road capacity and ridership requirements;
  5. the tightening enforcement of rules on franchising;
  6. the adoption of international standards on traffic signs, rules and regulations throughout the country to facilitate compliance and maintain a central or unified database system on traffic and traffic-related events that is linked to the franchising and licensing systems by developing inter connectivity of databases on all traffic and traffic-related information; and,
  7. the adoption of designs of road infrastructure and other street facilities which take into consideration road safety.

Phew – somebody must have been reading my traffic-related blogs 🙂 And, while they’re at it, they might as well include the development and administration of a competency-based TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT training program that includes, but is not limited to road traffic rules and regulations for those clueless Keystone Kops in our streets.

This is of course, a welcome start. The devil, as they say, is always in the details. While I’m glad that there is this realization of the ills that plague the public transport system, I am worried that the action plans (not to mention the execution of these) are being farmed out to several committees each composed of the usual alphabet soup government agencies. I fear death by committee.

I continue to maintain that given the multi-faceted nature of this problem that calls for a comprehensive and coordinated solution, the only way that the well-intentioned pledges contained in the Joint Statement don’t get lost in translation would be to have a properly-constituted super-body duly armed with the necessary resources. Anything less will likely lead to a perpetuation of agencies working at cross-purposes or worse, the death of this initiative.

Such would leave us with nothing to look forward to other than the butt of the smoke-belching colorum bus in front of your car.

 


we are all set: final & official ufl cup 2011 rankings + schedule

From UFL Technical Committee (received 12:23 am 3 November 2011)

MAKATI, Philippines – Please find below the OFFICIAL and FINAL decisions of the 2011/12 UFL Technical Committee regarding the ranking and match fixtures, to wit:

RANKING
The primary consideration in ranking the clubs was their standing in the group stage.  As such, all clubs ranked 1st in their respective group stages were ranked #1 to #7 and the clubs ranked 2nd in their respective group stages were ranked #8 to #14.  From among all 3rd place clubs in the group stages, the best 3rd place club was automatically ranked #15 while the 2nd best 3rd place club was automatically ranked #16.  As such, the official final ranking of the Top 16 clubs is as follows:

#1:  Loyola Meralco Sparks FC
#2:  Phil. Army fritz & Macziol FC
#3:  Phil. Air Force Phoenix FC
#4:  Nomads Auction Manila FC
#5:  Kaya Cignal FC
#6:  Green Archers United FC
#7:  Pachanga FC
#8:  Diliman Victory Liner FC
#9:  Stallion FC
#10:  Phil. Navy Redjuice FC
#11:  Lions Meltique Beef FC
#12:  Team Socceroo FC
#13:  Pasargad FC
#14:  Manhur FC
#15:  Global FC
#16:  Sunken Garden United FC

MATCH FIXTURES
Based on the ranking of the Top 16 teams, the official match-ups are as follows:

M-43: (  1 vs 16)  Loyola Meralco Sparks FC vs Sunken Garden United FC
M-44: (  9 vs   8)  Stallion FC vs Diliman Victory Liner FC
M-45: (  4 vs 13)  Nomads Auction Manila vs Pasargad FC
M-46: (12 vs   5)  Team Socceroo FC vs Kaya Cignal FC
M-47: (  6 vs 11)  Green Archers United FC vs Lions Meltique Beef FC
M-48: (14 vs   3)  Manhur FC vs Phil. Air Force Phoenix FC
M-49: (  7 vs 10)  Pachanga FC vs Phil. Navy Redjuice FC
M-50: (15 vs   2)  Global FC vs Phil. Army Fritz & Macziol FC

SCHEDULE OF MATCHES
As a consideration for the clubs with players on national duty as members of the U23 National Team competing in the 26th SEA Games in Indonesia, only 4 of the 8 Round of 16 matches have been calendared, to wit:

5 November 2011 (Saturday)
M-48:  Manhur FC vs Phil. Air Force Phoenix FC
2:00 PM, Rizal Memorial Sports Complex
M-45:  Nomads Auction Manila FC vs Pasargad FC
4:00 PM, Rizal Memorial Sports Complex

6 November 2011 (Sunday)
M-46:  Team Socceroo FC vs Kaya Cignal FC
6:30 PM, Nomads Sports Club
M-47:  Green Archers United FC vs Lions Meltique Beef FC
8:30 PM, Nomads Sports Club

TO BE CALENDARED
M-43:  Loyola Meralco Sparks FC vs Sunken Garden United FC
M-44:  Stallion FC vs Diliman Victory Liner FC
M-49:  Pachanga FC vs Phil. Navy Redjuice FC
M-50:  Global FC vs Phil. Army Fritz & Macziol FC

NOTE:  The schedule of the above matches will be released as soon as possible.

Kindly note that the above are OFFICIAL and FINAL as decided by the 2011/12 UFL Technical Committee.

Please be guided accordingly.

Thank you!

It’s OUR game!