The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) declared that 2016 has been a good year for its grassroots development program that started in 2011.
“The mere fact that the AFC (Asian Football Federation) has recognized the program in 2016 means that it’s a success but if we can still do anything that can improve it, we will do our best to make it happen,” PFF official Ake Pastoral told The Manila Times.
In 2016, the number of participants of PFF’s Kasibulan grassroots program registered a surge en route to its players bagging their second AFC President’s Award. Last year, the PFF held a total of 44 training sessions in different areas of the country with the number of participating players reaching 13,745 and the number of new coaches 2,417.
Pastoral attributed the success to the return of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation support on top of funds coming from other sponsors.
“In 2015, we had quite a low turnout but in 2016 we had a relevantly higher participation especially with the support of the sponsors that we had.”
Pastoral added that they are expecting an outpouring of support with the upcoming launch of the Philippines Football League in the first quarter of 2017.
“Of course, that is also something that we want to achieve with the national league. We want to encourage the youth to take up the sport through the provincial clubs that will be representing their areas.”
However, Pastoral stressed that certain areas of the program still need improvement to attract more participants especially in the provinces.
“In our RFAs (regional football associations), our target to complete the 500 kids every festival is not always met. With that, I believe that coordination and our partnership with the local Department of Education can still be improved. Aside from that, for 2017, I believe that it will be better if we can train more grassroots officers so that we will have more people that can help the program in the future,” he said.
He added that they are pushing for the formation of committees under the RFAs that will focus more on youth programs.
“I think also that it would be better for the RFA to establish their grassroots department because it is the lifeblood of our local football here up to the highest level. We really encourage that every RFA should have their grassroots department and a core group that will market the programs to gather more support.”
Pastoral said that PFF President Mariano Araneta is committed to the creation of a youth development program.
“The PFF president is very strong in pushing the development of the sport in the grassroots level and gearing toward the organization of a dedicated youth department that will focus more on youth programs,” he concluded.