for the pff – it’s all about the kids

Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan.

– Jose P. Rizal

SAN CARLOS CITY – I have retreated to this sleepy city of over 100,000 to serve as a speaker for a workshop for the Grassroots Development Officers of the member Provincial Football Associations of the Philippine Football Federation (PFF). Getting to San Carlos from Manila takes riding a plane to Silay City (north of Bacolod) and a close to 2 hour land trip going up and over the mountains which straddle the Negros Translink Eco-tourism Highway linking Bacolod City and San Carlos City.

I had heard about San Carlos City and its development as a center of football in the country particularly at the youth level. Players from this city populate teams of the Negros Occidental Football Association in the various competitions of the PFF. The long line of notable players that it has produced is evidence of the strength of its grassroots and youth development programs, the most recent of which is Jinggoy Valmayor of the UP Fighting Maroons, Diliman FC and the Philippine Men’s National Team to the recent Southeast Asian Games.

It quickly becomes apparent to me as to why this phenomenon had and continues to happen. Right in front of the City Hall is a bevy of football pitches that are apparently also segregated as to use by age-groups. The long-term support of the city for football is evidenced by an annual appropriation of P1 million for football alone. And, I can say it has been well-spent.

The man who directs all this is John Carmona, PFF’s Technical Director for the Visayas. Coach John’s soft-spoken manner belies his passion for the game. His daughter is a member of the U-14 Girls National Team and as she participated in the mini-festival that I observed, it was easy enough to see why.

The Grassroots Development Officers’ (GDO) Workshop is the culmination of the preparations for the country-wide roll-out of the Kasibulan Grassroots Development Program of the PFF. Through a combination of classroom and practical modules, the GDOs from 33 provinces in the country, are walked through the intricacies of Kasibulan as the final step in what has been an almost year-long training program for these GDOs. The 9-day workshop is rigorous with instructors from the PFF and the Japan Football Association meticulously going through each little detail including where to put the water stations during a Festival of Football. The GDOs are refreshed about the theory and practice of running a successful grassroots program, the financial aspects of the program, the manner of engaging Local Government Units and local Department of Education officials, among others.

As I watch, observe, participate, ask and answer questions and engage in small talk with the participants, I am heartened to be present in this gathering of some of the best youth coaches in the country. It also makes you realize the magnitude of this program when everything is rolled out – up to 198 Festivals of Football in up to 33 provinces in the country. At the same time, it makes you appreciate even more the effort of PFF’s Technical Department led by Coach Aris Caslib with this meticulous preparation.

Kasibulan, which is supported by Pagcor and the Asian Football Development Project, will start its full roll-out in April and will end in October. The final schedules and the mechanics for participation will be out next week. The preparation phase is almost over, it’s almost time to get down to business.

I left San Carlos City excited and with a sense of validation that we are ready. I also leave with the thought that, no matter whatever else is happening in the world of Philippine football, at the end of the day – it’s all about the kids.


2 Comments on “for the pff – it’s all about the kids”

  1. Congratulations – Indeed, Kasibulan is a role model for the rest of the country to follow in the development of football in the Philippines and I hope that the national and local government will give its full support in the grassroots programmes that will emerge as a result of this initiative.

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