Friday, June 16, 2006

Philippine junior development program takes shape

Except for school tournaments, summer clinics and competitions sanctioned by the Philippine Football Federation, football is an unfamiliar territory for the average Filipino youngster. This, however, could change significantly in the future as PFF intensifies its nationwide campaign to place the Philippines in the football world map.

PFF runs five regional training centers in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao and has a national training center in Barotac Nuevo in Iloilo. According to Roy Mendina of ABS-CBN News, the federation is also banking on a study done by a German doctor to improve the country’s football status. Bernhard Zgoll, who first arrived in Manila in mid-1978, was tasked by the government to diagnose and analyse the Philippine "football condition". Following a three-month study, Zgoll came up with a report, part of which said: "Nothing short of a complete and thorough overhaul is needed before the sport can be given the proper impetus for growth."

One of Zgoll’s recommendations was that "nationwide and unified football competitions all over the Philippines [should be established] on different levels, including competition of youngsters." He also said that competitions should be supported by local government authorities. Recently, PFF came up with a grassroots football program patterned after Zgoll’s study.

The program was held at the Marikina Sports Center. School and club teams from Metro Manila and guests from Davao, Masbate and Baguio participated in the seven-a-side football festival. Aside from the tournament, PFF, together with Federacion Andaluza de Futbol launched a coaching course in May at the Philsports Complex in Pasig City. The course focused on youth development. It also provided tools to better prepare the coaches for the centers of football excellence which will be established in provinces, PFF said.

A federation member, the Davao Football Association, is implementing the PFF-backed "Kasibulan Project" that caters to players six to 12 years old. DFA also has the Delta Project and the Center for Football Excellence. These are what DFA termed as "peculiar strategies" that comprise the other part of grassroots development. That "other" part, DFA told Medina, is the complementary progression that would polish the outstanding talents sieved from the Kasibulan programs. "This is our comprehensive scheme to gratify the distinct proficiency of the best and brightest - the elite - a continuing process for our future football standouts," DFA said.

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