The launching of the Philippine Football League (PFL) in April this year is a step in the right direction taken by the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) in its bid to further promote and develop the beautiful game in the Philippines.
The PFL, which will replace the United Football League as the country’s Tier 1 tournament, will see football clubs representing a province and playing home and away games.
Such format is a refreshing turn, with teams presumably taking pride in bannering, say, Antique or Tawi-Tawi, instead of spearheading like in the Philippine Basketball Association a squad named after a mobile phone, roof sealant or archangel’s gin.
It also is an apparent recognition by the PFF led by Mariano “Nonong” Araneta that the federation is a salesman of football talent in these parts, just like the National Basketball Association is of basketball ability, nothing more, nothing less.
We gather that potential members of a PFL eleven do not necessarily have to be from the province that he would like to play for because if that were made a requirement for eligibility, we are afraid that a team will have a hard time fielding, say, unadulterated players from Tarlac or Sultan Kudarat.
In the same vein, it would have taken the Philippine Azkals a longer time to make football gain popularity in this basketball-mad country if the PFF did not acknowledge that hyphenated Filipinos, mostly from Europe, are a bit ahead of homegrown players, partly because of early exposure to the game in a continent where futbol is religion and basketball a sacrilege.
Eight teams from the UFL’s Division 1 group, according to Araneta, have signified their intention to suit up for the PFL and two clubs representing Davao and Ilocos are considering joining the league.
Perhaps you thought that only guys from Barotac Nuevo in Iloilo and Bacolod City in Negros Occidental play football but apparently Duterte’s Davao and Chavit’s Ilocos are as capable of skirmishing on the pitch with the legendary ex-Azkal Chieffy Caligdong or the young Amani Aguinaldo, who is from Mindanao and currently a reliable Azkal.
Unfortnately, Chieffy will probably not be able to play for his Green Archers United FC, a Division 1 team in the UFL, with the club citing lack of time to meet documentary requirements of the PFL.
The PFL, which is sanctioned by world football governing body FIFA, may be in for big surprises in its serious bid to find who among young Filipinos could be the next grassroots discoveries like Amani and Daisuke Sato and Kenshiro Daniels, both proud Azkals, to name a few.