PFF goes to the grassroots

By Olmin Leyba | The Philippine Star |

The Philippine Football Federation kicked off its search for the next Chieffy Caligdongs and Phil Younghusbands with the revival of its Kasibulan grassroots development program, partnering with the Asian Football Development Project (AFDP) of Jordanian Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor).
Targeting kids aged 6-12 who have the potential to be “young Azkals” in future international meets, Kasibulan was relaunched yesterday during the opening of the Calamba Football Festival in this historic town.
No less than Prince Ali, Fifa vice president for Asia and founder and chairman of AFDP, was on hand for the program’s blastoff. Hussein made Kasibulan 2012 the pilot project of the AFDP, an NGO aiming to provide effective needs-based assistance to all Asian national and regional football associations and affiliates.
“The Philippines is very promising and I appreciate the view of the (PFF) president (Nonong Araneta) about grassroots development,” said Hussein, whose group will provide the PFF with equipment for the endeavor.
“You’ve gone a long way, as seen by the emergence of the Azkals and I believe you should start the creation of a new generation of Azkals,” he added, as he and Araneta sealed the partnership during simple rites witnessed by Mayor Joaquin Chipeco Jr. and Rep. Justin Chipeco of festival host Calamba prior to the Calamba Football Festival’s opening.
Pagcor earlier got things rolling by contributing P20 million for Kasibulan for the year.
“It (Kasibulan) will help train Pinoy football players starting from the grassroots level with an end goal of achieving excellence and strengthening their competitive skills. At dito sisibol ang mga Batang Azkals,” Pagcor chairman and CEO Cristino Naguiat Jr. said in signing an agreement with PFF and turning over a ceremonial check Friday night.
Almost 1,000 kids took part in the opener of the Calamba Football Festival, the first recipient of the AFDP support and venue of PFF’s Kasibulan.
Chipeco said with the three-in-one football extravaganza, the people of Calamba hope to help “lay the foundation for providing new opportunities in the field of sports to our young people.”
Araneta said Kasibulan targets about 200 festivals all over the country for the year, with 500 to 1,000 participants in each staging. Ultimate goal is to develop young guns and qualify for the 2019 World Youth (U-17) Championship and before that the Asian U13 and U14 meet in 2016.