THE Philippines is a basketball nation, but it might not be that way for much longer, as football gains a strong following to become the next sports of choice of Filipinos.
To propel the Philippines as a genuine regional power in the sport, support must begin with the young athletes. At the recent National Youth Futsal Cup (NYFC), amid an excited audience, global insurance company Allianz PNB Life takes the lead in organizing a nationwide friendly competition participated in by 24 teams. Allianz has a long-standing partnership as shareholder and platinum sponsor of FC Bayern, as well as naming right partner of the Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany.
According to Dr. Olaf Kliesow, president and CEO of Allianz PNB Life, the NYFC is a collaboration with the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) and the Henry Moran Foundation. The PFF is the government agency tasked to promote football in the country, which made it possible to gather teams nationwide for the games. The Henry Moran Foundation, whose president Danny Moran was a member of the Philippine national football team in the 1970s, acted as coorganizer of the friendly games.
“It is a project in line with the Allianz Junior Football Camp [AJFC], where we are promoting football to people who are passionate about the sport,” he said.
The AJFC is one of the strongest youth development programs of Allianz, where young football talents from around the world are given extraordinary experiences to train with youth coaches of FC Bayern Munich, bringing them closer to their dream of becoming a football star. This is the first time the Philippines is sending representatives to the premier football camp.
Kliesow further revealed, “The winners of this cup will join the football camp in Bali that will take place in August later this year. A couple of people will be invited to Munich later in the year. There, it’s one week about football.”
The program, he explained, reflects the global Allianz vision that you can achieve your goals with the right team and partners.
Kliesow, himself is a huge football fan, also noted that football is a No. 1 sport in his country, Germany. “I am an absolute fan of football and German football is clearly a No.1 sport,” added the head of one of the world’s top insurance companies.
“Sports is a mind-set thing. If you have the right attitude and if you are passionate about it, you can always win,” he further said, while expressing his excitement for the Philippine delegation, “I have seen great players today. I’ve seen them having a lot of fun. Definitely, they will have a chance of participating and winning.”
The PFF, together with Moran, determined the players, who will be joining the camp, based on their performance in the NYFC friendly games, which is a combination of technique, physique and decision-making capabilities.
The members of the “Mythical Five” included FC Malaya’s JM Mitra, Tuloysa Don Bosco’s Michael Antillo and Archie de la Cruz, Iloilo’s Konrad Keim Sollorin and Cordillera Goshenland’s Aeron Tenollo. Two of these players will be chosen to represent the Philippines to the AJFC to be held in Munich, Germany, also in August.
Meanwhile, La Salle-Greenhills (LSGH) emerged as winner of the NYFC, which was held at the University of Asia and the Pacific Sports Building. LSGH turned back FC Malaya, 1-0, in a hard-fought boy’s final. Team Iloilo bagged the third spot in the division.
In the finals of the girls division, Naga stunned Tuloy sa Don Bosco on penalties, 2-1. Cordillera Goshenland took third place.