A recent conversation with Philippine Football Federation president Nonong Araneta gave The Designated Kit Man an unknown tidbit about President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. himself.
The football chief said the Filipinas’ recent visit to Malacañang was a big boost to the sport. He said the team’s courtesy call on the Chief Executive was very fruitful and promising not only for football but for all sports in general.
Araneta said Marcos is very interested in sports revival, especially in the elementary and secondary levels. The government’s support in sports will eventually lead to more awareness and more support not only from the government, but from the private sector as well.
Araneta said that President Marcos knows this so well because he also played football when he was young.
“Coming from him, I think the President also played before when he was a student. Ang sabi pa ni Presidente dapat talaga dagdagan pa ang time for sports and let the children play more and it should start with the Department of Education to allow the students to play more,” he explained.
“Football and other sports as well are very important factors in the in the country’s well-being because they promote good health and other good things and values. So, hopefully, the government will inject more funding for sports and also more time for students to play. Yung P.E. nila kasi 30 minutes per week eh ano naman ang magagawa nila for that? Dati nga may Department of Education, Culture and Sports tayo. Tapos naging DepEd na lang, nawala na yung Sports. We need more training for the children to play outside, not only for football but other sports as well. A healthy body is a healthy mind,” Araneta added.
Which bring us to more interesting developments for the Filipinas.
The Philippine National Women’s Football Team’s road to the FIFA World Cup next year will now include a pit stop in Los Angeles, California.
Araneta also told the Designated Kit Man that the Filipinas will take another World Cup-bound team in a friendly next month in the United States.
“I think they’re playing New Zealand in L.A. on September 6 or 9,” Araneta said.
Aranerta likewise confirmed the Filipinas will also travel to Costa Rica to play two friendlies against the Latin American country in their home turf in October. He said the Filipinas’ success in the AFF Cup is only the beginning of more challenges for the team as it prepares for the biggest tournament in women’s football.
Araneta is hopeful also that with the team’s winning run, the renewed interest on football in the country will also translate to more fans and stakeholders’ support to all national football teams, including the Under-16, Under-19, Under-23 and the Philippine Azkals.
“The interest is there again because of the success of the women’s team. Football is in the limelight again. And we hope to sustain the interest that’s why we are scheduling a lot of games for them. And hopefully, in November, they can play a game here in the country and tuluy-tuloy ang preparation nila for the World Cup,” Araneta revealed.
And despite the losses suffered by the country’s youth teams in recent international competitions, he said it is still a good thing coming from more than two years of the pandemic. He believes there is so much to look forward to when it comes to football.
“Two years tayong wala at hindi naglaro ang mga bata and it showed. Unti-unti, we started participating in Indonesia pero makikita mo naman ang ‘yung match fitness nila – wala, even our Under-19 – but we are trying to revive football again by participating in tournaments and also holding local tournaments as long as the IATF will allow us. We have to start playing again. Matagal na nawala, let the players play again,” Araneta said.
Araneta is also ecstatic that the Football Federation will soon have a bigger headquarters in Carmona, Cavite with the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the five-story building. Aside from more services and facilities that can be offered in one place by the PFF for its grassroots program, coaches training, player education and other matters related to football, the new building is practical and sustainable.
“We have more classrooms for our coaches and referees as they take educational and technical courses and they can take practical applications of what they learned right away because the football pitch is just nearby. At hindi na kami magrerenta kung saan saan at malapit na lang ang football field,” he added.
Speaking of the domestic league, the Philippines Football League’s second tournament of the year is set to unfold this Sunday, August 7, 2022 at the Rizal Football Stadium with a double header. Kaya FC Iloilo will battle the Azkals Development Team in the opener at 4 p.m. before the Maharlika Manila FC takes on United City FC in the nightcap at 7 p.m.
“They are really gung ho about playing again because hindi na siya under a bubble tournament. It’s an incentive for them. Moreover, the clubs should encourage their fans to go to the games and watch. We still have Qatar Airways as a major sponsor and hopefully local companies will also come in and support us,” Araneta said.
PFL Commissioner and new dad Coco Torre said at least seven teams are competing in the tournament. Aside from Kaya, ADT, Maharlika and UCFC, Stallion Laguna FC, Mendiola FC 1991 and Dynamic Herb Cebu FC are also in the mix in the tournament.
“We are very excited to launch the 5th edition of the Philippines Football League this weekend because we are bringing back the home and away format so that football fans in other parts of the country can enjoy watching the games live, too. Matches will be played not only at the Rizal Football Stadium but also at the Imus City Grandstand in Cavite, Biñan Football Stadium in Laguna, Cebu City, Iloilo City, and New Clark City Stadium. We are also looking at holding the games in neutral grounds to benefit more football fans,” Torre said.
He added that fans will also be able to enjoy the matches through the PFL’s free livestream platforms on its YouTube and Facebook pages.
Torre added the PFL is very grateful for the tremendous success and awareness brought by the success of the Filipinas and he is hopeful that more football fans will troop to the venues to cheer and support their local teams.
I also hope that the renewed support and interest in football will last for a long time. With more support coming from government, private sectors, fans and other stakeholders, I am hoping that the coming years will be kinder to football and more success will be reached because we can’t simply waste this opportunity.
Stay safe. Stay happy peeps!
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