Before this week ends, the Philippine Azkals will have a coach that will lead the young team against Vietnam in a friendly on December 14 and against Cambodia, when the AFF Mitsubishi Electric begins on December 20, 2022.
In a quick chat with The Designated Kit Man, Dan Palami, team manager of the Philippine Azkals, said the new Azkals’ coach will be arriving today, while his assistant is already in the country. He flew into the Philippines yesterday.
Palami said the new coach will be formally introduced soon and his assistant will take over the training sessions of the squad starting today and lead them for the next phase of the preparations.
Palami refused to reveal who the new coach and his assistant are. He, however, gave several hints. The coaches are relatively young compared to previous mentors of the team. One of them was born in the early 80s.
“They worked in the Barcelona Academy before. They have coached professional clubs as well, so we are okay. What I want to achieve and what I want to have is a young motivated coach that will complement the squad that we have because it’s composed of young players,” Palami said.
He also added that he is quite happy with the way the players are performing in the training camp right now.
“These young players have been quite a revelation in terms of their pace and how quick they move the ball around. We expect that enthusiasm, determination, speed and athleticism will offset the lack of experience in some players,” Palami quipped.
Palami likewise said that several foreign-based Azkals will be arriving in the next few days to join the camp at Rizal Memorial Stadium. The team will also make its first cuts on who will remain in the camp.
“There will be a couple, who will be coming in starting next week. But even now, we will be trimming the number of players who are in the pool. Compared to the first week where the emphasis was to get the players back to their competitive levels, the next phase will focus on tactics. Now that we have a regular coach, we can now move into the tactical aspects which will necessitate the cutting down the list of those who are in training,” Palami explained.
Palami said they will use the tuneup game against Vietnam to know the readiness of the team. He said he can’t blame the fans for expecting much from the new generation of Azkals.
“The friendly against Vietnam is meant to gauge ourselves prior to the actual group stages. And I think that even in that game, both teams will not go full throttle, because we want to preserve the players for the actual tournament. We also want to avoid injuries and be ready for the first day of competitions,” he added.
Regarding the team captain position of the team, Palami said he would like Stephan Schrock to lead the team simply because of what he has done in the past few months in leading the young Azkals Development Team (ADT) in the domestic league and his impact on the young players in the training pool right now.
“I’ve seen how he has led the ADT squad and how well he has guided the young players. I think it will be a good fit for the team. If he does what he is doing in ADT, he would best suit the role. Moreover, this will be his transition from player to coach. Even as a player, we can still see his passion, he can still make a positive impact on the team,” Palami said.
While the team is young and inexperienced, I would like to share and support Palami’s optimism that the Azkals are capable of pulling off surprises in the tournament. Things will be difficult, which is a fact, but the team has to restart now and reboot somewhere, somehow. A good show in the Mitsubishi Electric Cup might be the spark the team needs to move forward and reclaim its mighty bark and bite.
Speaking of positive impact, The Designated Kit Man had the opportunity to visit some friends in Mission Hills Havila in Antipolo City. With most communities bearing the brunt of the impact of quarantine protocols due to the COVID pandemic, homeowners in Mission Hills somehow turned the challenge into something positive.
Led by three residents, the community is now thriving with various sports activities that will even outdo the sports programs of several local government units or even a national sports entity.
As of now, Sta. Catalina in Mission Hills has at least a kendo, archery, karting, football, taekwondo, basketball and swimming. Residents are also planning to put up a birdwatching club, owing to the many and colorful birds that have been regular visitors in the area.
Resident and professor Cadz Malbarosa, Marq Hernandez, corporate secretary and Joel Espineli, former homeowners’ association president, were the prime movers behind the dynamic transition of the subdivision from just neighbors to friends and responsible and active members of the community. They have accelerated the transformation of their community from a silent and in denial into something that faced the COVID pandemic restrictions, locked onto its horns and kicked it eventually outside their doors.
And they did it with less expense and zero care for politics and negativity.
“We started in pockets, initially with several neighbors bonding together for an outreach program to help other communities struggling to cope with the pandemic. Namigay kami ng bigas, nagtayo ng mga community pantry. At ‘yung sports ang isa sa mga outreach namin na ang epekto ay nagpalalim lalo ng aming samahan. It started with good will that generated more good will. Dito ang nagsimula ang tinatawag naming virtue cycle sa aming komunidad,” Malbarosa said.
From a small football pitch in the community, several other sports clubs came out to cater to the interests of the young members of the community. The youngest in the pitch is just three years old and never misses the training sessions every Saturday morning.
The homeowners also made partnerships with several semi-professional clubs in Antipolo providing them with access to their facilities. These partners, in return, have agreed to send their coaches and players to train the kids and even adults of Sta. Catalina for free.
“Nagsimula lang kami simple lang. Laro laro lang para sa mga bata pero eventually marami ang naging intresado. Marami tumulong kasi nakita ang mga potential ng mga bata sa sports whether archery o football man. Mas naging masaya kasi at mas naging lively ang community dahil there are more reasons for people to get together,” Espineli added.
But more importantly, relationships between neighbors have improved so much in the challenging years of the pandemic as compared to before COVID changed people’s lives.
“Bago itong mga programa namin, I don’t have friends here prior to joining and being active in our sports programs. Nagkaroon kami ng chances na magkakakilala at maging magkakaibigan. Ngayon mahigit 1,000 na ang kilala ko at marami diyan ka-close ko na,” Hernandez revealed.
Because of the success of the community, other subdivisions in the area are asking Malbarosa, Hernandez, Espineli and other members of Sta. Catalina to share the lessons and experiences they gained. They want to know how they brought back the meaning of magkakapitbahay, magkakaibigan at magkakasama. More importantly, they want to know how they managed to bring back trust in their community.
“While they are there for security reasons, the gates and walls of the subdivision should only exist in our minds. At the end of the day, we are all neighbors and we should help other communities to find the means to make them stronger and even happier in these challenging times,” Malbarosa added.
This lesson should not only apply to Mission Hills, but hopefully to more communities all over the country.
Mangangarap din lang sagarin na natin. Kidding aside though, let’s have more sports and less politics andnegativity. Simply because we deserve more.
To know more about the sports programs in Mission Hills, please tune in to 3PTS–Pambansang Tambayan ng Sports this coming Sunday, December 4, 2022, from 2 to 3 p.m. at DZME 1530. The Designated Kit Man and partner Rommel Miranda will have an update from Prof. Cadz Malbarosa, Marq Hernandez and Joel Espineli on what’s next for their community.
Stay safe. Stay happy peeps!
For comments or questions, you can reach The Designated Kit Man at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow his account at Twitter: @erelcabatbat