Azkals popularity crucial to grassroots programs

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Philippines Azkal Phil Younghusband (left) and Indian football player Raju tussle for the ball during their AFC Challenge Cup in Kathmandu. AFP PHOTO

Philippines Azkal Phil Younghusband (left) and Indian football player Raju tussle for the ball during their AFC Challenge Cup in Kathmandu. AFP PHOTO

The popularity of the Philippine Azkals gives big boost to football grassroots development program in different parts of the country, according to Cagayan-Misamis Oriental Football Association President Percy Guarin.

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“The popularity of the Azkals, which started in 2006 when Phil and James Younghusband and a few other players with Filipino parentage joined the team, has boosted the growth of football in the country not only in the grassroots level but most importantly in the number of supporters and fans of football,” Guarin told The Manila Times.

Guarin also recognized the role of media in promoting the Beautiful Game in the Philippines.

“The media slowly took notice of this [growing popularity of the sport]and eventually played the role of bringing football to every household or Filipino here and abroad,” he added.

Guarin noted that the growth of the sport, especially in the provinces, could only be sustained through the involvement of different sectors.

“The popularity and performance of the Azkals, the initiatives of member regional football associations and the initiatives of private individuals and corporations ensure the sustained growth of football in the country,” Guarin said.

The veteran football leader also lauded the efforts of incumbent Philippine Football Federation (PFF) President Mariano Araneta in promoting the sport in different provinces.

Guarin explained that Araneta addressed not only the grassroots and youth development aspects of the sport but also the needs of coaches and referees in terms of proper education.

“The PFF under the leadership of Mariano V. Araneta with a great vision, commitment and love for Philippine football has done a tremendous job in the growth of football in every region covered by the 33 member regional football associations,” he concluded.

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