Younghusbands want to help train future Azkals

By Anna Valmero

TAGUIG CITY— Younghusband are hoping football will become a professional sport in the country so that more Filipino players get to play for the national team.

The half-Filipino, half-British siblings founded the The Younghusband Football Academy (TYFA), which initially started giving football clinics for city kids. They now also provide free clinics to public school students in the provinces.

James in TYFA clinic with kids | Credit: loQal.ph
“We believe football is for the masa (masses) so we want to create more opportunities for kids to enjoy the sport and train the trainers so we can speed up the development of homegrown talents,” says Phil.

“I want to marry my two loves – football and the staying in the Philippines. The way for me to do that is get a job for me here, offering training (lessons) while playing,” he adds.

The brothers began doing these clinics as a treat for their fans until they decided to turn it into a formal organization and register it as a social enterprise.

James, meanwhile, says they expanded the program and accept trainers so there is also transfer of coaching and training skills.

“This creates a huge multiplier effect since they teach 500 to a thousand kids,” says James, adding he wants to impart what he has a learned in the professional league (as a member of Chelsea in the English league) and as a player for the Azkals.

The brothers also scout for promising but underprivileged kids who become TYFA scholars. This year, they are eyeing 60 scholars for each session.

“When I was in England, I play 60 to 70 games in a year while kids in the Philippines play an average of ten games a year so you need to create more games for them,” Phil says.

“When we were in England, our dad signed us up every day during summer so we hope that through these clinics, we are giving kids the opportunity to play more often so they get better,” adds James.

Phil and James are also endorsing Rhett Eala-designed Collezione shirts. A portion of the sales of these shirts go to the TYFA scholarship fund.

TYFA coach Jojo Durian says these football clinics aim to inspire kids to embrace the sport early on – as young as four years old – until they decide to train seriously to become professional players.

He admits the popularity of the Philippine Azkals are enticing parents to enroll their kids in their clinics.

“Sports clinics allow kids time to move about and learn a new skill, which is better than just leaving them on the streets,” he says.

Football, though, remains second in popularity to basketball among Filipinos. So what’s the biggest challenge for the development of football in the country?

“Sustaining the interest in the sport and letting the kids know there is a future for them in this sport, that they can earn a living here once it gets professionalized in the country. We also teach them to learn basic values in life through the sport,” says Phil.

“We wouldn’t be around forever. We only have at best 15 years left to play. I hope that when these kids turn 20 and I’ll be retired by then, they get to score goals for the Philippines.” Source