Azkals dev’t program finds raw, promising talent in 18-year-old


Teenager Lance Ocampo found himself in a unique position early this year when his one-week training stint with the Azkals Development Team (ADT) was rewarded with a contract to play for the ADT in the Philippines Football League.

And while his performance in the camp impressed coa­ches, the 18-year-old right winger was still surprised he was able to nail a spot in the team, which aims to transition top talents to the senior squad.

“During the last day of camp, coach Scott [Cooper] came up to me and then asked me ‘have you gotten the details of your contract?’” Ocampo recalled. “After that training, in my head, I was thinking that I needed to say goodbye to coach Scott, I’m gonna say thank you for giving me this opportunity. But then I was able to get the contract.”

But this is just the type of opportunity that Ocampo has prepared himself for ever since he showed up at the Philippine Army field almost 10 years ago for his first football clinic. He has worked tirelessly to reach a level that few players his age have gotten to.

It also helps that he has the full support of his school, IAcademy, where he majors in software development.

“I remember going to my first training session wearing my basketball shoes and basketball jerseys,” said Ocampo, who also trained under the Younghusband Football Academy a few years back.

“My first club was in Army, Army Football Club. I’ve been very fortunate to be coached by former Azkal players, like coach Roel Gener in the national team, so since my first year playing football, I’ve been very lucky that they were my coaches.”

The ADT is a significant step in the development of Ocampo, who made his pro debut last year with Global Cebu. Back then, Ocampo flew under the radar, although he was already making his mark in youth tournaments under the GOM Center of Excellence program of former national player Darren Hartmann.

A message from Azkals manager Dan Palami to Hartmann a few months back set off a chain of events that led to Oca­mpo’s move to ADT.

“I remember Mr. Palami asking for a player who was skillful and quick and hopefully that’s what we gave him,” said Hartmann, who has personally supervised Ocampo’s workouts. INQ