‘More age-group football meets needed’

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    REGIONAL football associations (RFAs) would like to see more spending by the Philippine Football Association in development programs for the RFAs’ needs, including the vital age-group tournaments.

    Negros Occidental Football Association President Ricky Yanson issued this appeal to the PFF on behalf of the RFAs, adding the PFF has staged just one age-group tournament in the past four years.

    The drought in new age-group tournaments continued despite hikes in the PFF’s revenues and spending program, fueled by contributions from world football bodies like the FIFA and the AFC.

    In its president’s report submitted to the RFAs for the coming 16th Congress on Nov. 29, the PFF reported just one age-group tournament for this year, the U-15 Boy’s National Championship.

    The PFF did not hold any age-group tournaments in 2016, 2017 and 2018. The only other major age-group activity held by the PFF was the Festival of Football, which is primarily a scouting exercise for members of the national youth teams funded by the Japan Football Association.

    Yanson, pushing for more development programs under his “football para sa lahat” initiative, said the RFAs wanted more of the PFF funds put in age-group tourneys and other grassroots activities to build more and better home-grown talents for the national teams.

    “More tournaments also have a multiplier effect for our RFAs and their communities. They result in a happier youth, more engagements with stakeholders, and more jobs and economic activity related to football.”

    Yanson, chair of the PFF youth development and grassroots committee, expressed frustration over the lack of priority and funding support for his area. This led the members to fund committee work and implement projects, out of their own pockets. While grassroots projects were approved, the PFF had no budget for them.

    For instance, he said the Training Area Development program was approved for an initial eight RFAs, but the PFF administration said there were no funds available. After studying the concept, Yanson funded TAD’s implementation in the NOFA areas, reaping benefits for footballers in Negros.

    “We sacrifice willingly so that more Filipinos can enjoy football. The PFF must put more emphasis on development programs. We need to build a more solid football base for our youth.”

    The RFAs noted that the PFF last week announced new age-group tournaments for next year, with the expected entry of Qatar Airways as a new sponsor. But Yanson said the PFF should have prioritized funding for development in its spending long before.

    “The RFAs should be consulted more in the allocation of PFF resources. Development programs for their communities should also be given priority, so the game can grow in our country,” Yanson said.