Philippine football gets royal aid
CALAMBA—What’s a prince—however nondescript in a white sports shirt and khaki pants—doing in front of eager-eyed football youngsters?
Giving Philippine football a royal boost.
His Royal Highness Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan, the new vice president of the international football federation (Fifa), hopes to play a major role in helping the sport grow and develop in the country.
“How many of you want to represent the Azkals in the future?” Al-Hussein asked the young football players during yesterday’s media conference. Apparently, the Azkals, the moniker of the national football team, also caught Al-Hussein’s attention.
“I’ve seen the progress in the Philippines,” he said. “I think it will be football-crazy country in a few years.”
It’s for this reason that Al-Hussein chose the Philippines as the first beneficiary of the Asian Football Development Project (AFDP), a non-profit youth commission he founded in a bid to provide assistance to football associations in the region.
“The goal is to jump-start football development on a different model,” said Jun Pacificador, president of the Laguna Football Association (LFA). “Usually, it starts off good but then it doesn’t progress. The challenge really is how to sustain it.”
With the AFDP providing a need-based assistance, the Kasibulan Football Grassroots Development Program hopes to engage more youth and women into the game.
The PFF also got a financial aid of P20 million from the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corp. for the Kasibulan program.
“We are happy to be a part of the development of a new generation of the Azkals,” said Pagcor chair and CEO Cristino Naguiat.
“We hope to introduce a new breed of football champions,” said Calamba Mayor Joaquin Chipeco.
“We’re investing on the youth,” said Philippine Football Federation president Mariano Araneta.
“Right now we’re welcoming everyone, even if they’re barefooted,” said LFA coach Angelito Telosa.