'More futsal courts needed to sustain PH football'

by Dennis Gasgonia, abs-cbnNEWS.com

Posted at Jul 30 2011 10:12 PM | Updated as of Jul 31 2011 09:27 AM

Philippine Azkals practicing football
MANILA, Philippines – To sustain the popularity of football in the Philippines, Filipinos should be encouraged to play the sport.

To do this, according to football analyst Bob Guerrero, more futsal fields should be developed so that fans can enjoy the sport popularized locally by the Philippine Azkals.

“There are a lot of basketball courts all over the country. What I'd like to see is more futsal goals to be developed,” Guerrero said in dzMM’s Sports Talk.

Futsal is a scaled down version of football. It is played between 2 teams with 5 players each.

“It's a great game to develop skills, dribbling skills... all you need is a couple of goals, a bag of balls and you can play football,” said Guerrero.

Other guests on Saturday’s Sports Talk include Pinoyfootball.com columnist and sports writer Cedelf Tupas, and Azkals players Simon Greatwich, Rob Gier, Misagh Bahadoran and Nate Burkey.

Guerrero hopes that the sport flourishes in the Philippines just like in Japan, whose team recently won the Women’s World Cup.

“I'm hopeful what happens in the Philippines is the same thing that happened in Japan, where baseball is more popular. The passion and interest should be sustained,” he said.

‘Play-for-pay’
Tupas, for his part, stressed the need to develop a professional football league to encourage Filipinos to really take up football.

“Sometimes it's not just about playing for the country, you want to make a career also,” he said.

He said local players should be provided an avenue where they can use their football talent.

“If you're taking up football as a sport early on, wala kang patutunguhan… you don't have a future with it. You go to college for example, when you play football and get a college scholarship, after that, should you continue playing?” said Tupas.

Azkals' Rob Gier and Neil Etheridge

Grass roots
According to Gier, the country can take advantage of the sport’s current popularity by implementing a comprehensive grass roots program.

He said that for the sport to really flourish in the Philippines, the locals should continue what the Azkals have started.

“We're gonna need players that gonna step into our shoes, it's important that we generate as many new playing football as possible, we gonna need find local guys out there,” said Gier.

“This is all about football,” he said. “We just want people to play the game and love it as much as we do. We're grateful now that we have the chance to set this up.”

Tupas said the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) plays a major role in sustaining the initial success.

“Now it's a challenge for the PFF to convince DepEd (Department of Education) again to put more emphasis on football as a PE sport,” he said.