Page last updated at 05:06 Asia/Manila, Saturday, 06 April 2013 PH
In a previous column in this paper, I wrote about formulating a roadmap for the football industry in the Philippines. I referred to a series of Round Table Discussions that I will be convening in the coming months to involve as many stakeholders of the sport as possible in the formulation of this roadmap, under the leadership of Mariano Araneta, President of the Philippine Football Federation, the private organization charged with coordinating all the activities and initiatives related to football. Already in the last two years, thanks to the excitement about the improved performance of the national team, the AZCALS, in Asian tournaments, there has been a notable increase in the number of football clubs, family clubs and school-initiated activities attracting more football players at all age levels and spectators to the games, whether in the stadia or on the TV screen. We can say that a "thousand flowers are blooming" and there is no intention on the part of the PFF or other organizations to centralize decision making or to stifle individual efforts.
There is a consensus, however, among a select group of football enthusiasts that I invited to an initial meeting that it is important that the various stakeholders in the sport communicate to one another what they are currently doing to advance the sport. In this article, I will describe some of the individuals or groups of individuals who consider themselves as the stakeholders of the football industry. The list is far from being exhaustive and is meant to elicit feedback from other individuals and groups who do not find themselves in the list. My intention here is to involve, even just through electronic mail, all the aficionados who can help the Philippine Football Federation craft a long-term plan for the industry. We also want to identify more individuals and associations who can participate in a Football Congress that can be organized in the near future. In this Congress, we intend to present the preliminary roadmap that will be a result of a series of Roundtable Discussions that will be held at the Center for Research and Communication of the University of Asia and the Pacific.
The most obvious stakeholders who attended our meeting were Mr. Mariano (Nonong) Araneta and Atty. Edwin Gastanes, President and Secretary General, respectively, of the Philippine Football Federation which is the overall governing body in the industry. Representing the organizers of football tournaments was Mr. Philip Hagedorn, the Head of the United Football League and the Football Alliance. Also in attendance was Ms. Cathy Nazareno-Rivilla, Commissioner of the Asian Football Confederation and manager of the Younghusband brothers, two of the most valuable assets of the AZCALS. Family clubs were represented by Mr. Randy Clarino, the most active in organizing these clubs in Quezon City, Marikina and Sta. Rosa, Laguna. Mr. Clarino is the father of a brood of football players which include his son Aljoe who has played for the national team and is now organizing his own family club in Bulacan. Accompanying the Clarinos was Mr. Manuel Villalon II, who is active in organizing youth clubs that promote, among others, the playing of football. The Weekend Football League was represented by its organizer, Mr. Jose Prats. Another football club running football clinics for children and teenagers, Team Socerro FC, was represented by the two brothers Wool and Mike Reyes. They have excited the whole football world in the Philippines by announcing that coaches from the world-famous FC Barcelona are coming in April 2013 to conduct football clinics for a select group of children and teenagers.
An entrepreneur, Ed Capulong, announced to the group that the newest family club focused on football to be organized is the one in the Ayala subdivision in Silang, Cavite, Westgrove. One of the participating fathers is the Governor of Cavite himself. Two corporations very supportive of football were represented by Ms. Princess Galura of Sunrise Events, an initiative of the Alaska Milk Corporation that has for the longest period of time been promoting football among children through the annual tournament called the Alaska Cup. The other was Nike represented by Mr. Miguel Celdran who reported that their company just opened a store wholly devoted to football-related items. As an aside, Mr. Celdran has twin sons who idolize Lionel Messi and at the early age of seven years are determined to play professional football in Europe some day. They have been inspired by the story of a nine-year-old student of Southridge, Sandro Reyes (son of former Congressman Edmund Reyes Jr.) who is now enrolled in the famous Escola FC Barcelona, the precursor to the Masia football academy which produced such world-class talents as Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and Cesc Fabregas, among others, not to mention Pep Guadiola, former coach of FC Barcelona and now coach of Bayern Munich. Next week, we will continue enumerating some of the stakeholders of the "beautiful game." For comments, my email address is email@example.com.