The Football bandwagon
Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
One of the good things that has come from the recent achievements of the Philippine National Football Team, also known as the Azkals, is that football is currently enjoying an unprecedented rise in popularity in this basketball-crazy country. So popular is football these days that even Education Secretary Armin Luistro is set to hold talks with football associations to see how the public school system could support the national program.
The Department of Education chief is considering developing specialized schools for sports, where students with athletic potential could undergo focused training. Sec. Luistro believes that the Azkals have changed the way Filipinos look at football and that we can now use that interest to push for a school-based program that is in line with the national program. He also thinks that efforts to develop a school football program must focus on towns and cities where residents are known to have a natural inclination for the sport.
The DepEd Secretary believes that specialized schools are necessary because there are not too many schools that have spaces big enough for football. The schools that have the playing fields that could support a full blown football sports program can be tapped for this purpose while those that do not have the necessary areas can still support football by getting sponsors for footballs and encouraging street football or futsal.
The recent awe inspiring performance of the Azkals in international competitions has shown us that football is a sport that the members of the vertically challenged Filipino race can actually excel in. Now that there is an opportunity for our government and sports officials to take advantage of the unprecedented awareness of the sport that is known as the beautiful game, to turn the spotlight on football, we have to take full advantage of it.
Because everybody loves a winner, sports officials and the private sector have started the ball rolling by giving football the attention and funding it has been begging for, and now the DepEd is also jumping into the bandwagon. The Azkals have done their job in putting Philippine football where it is right now. It is now up to the government and the private sector to capitalize on football’s current popularity and get Filipinos into a sport where we actually have a chance of making a mark in the international community. Let’s hope they don’t waste this opportunity.*