While all eyes are on the Philippine National Football Team or Philippine AZKALS as they prepare for the next qualifying game against Kuwait, the next generation members of the team called Teen AZKALS will be competing in the ASEAN Football Federation Under-16 Youth Championship 2011 in Vientiane, Laos from July 7 to 21.
The Philippine Azkals’ goal to qualify to the FIFA World Cup remains a question, as the long road to World Cup will entail them to compete with several national football teams including Kuwait who has been playing for a long time and is ranked 101st to Philippines 159th in the world. The Kuwait has appeared once in World Cup and 8 times in AFC, and has even won the AFC Cup in 1980. Even manager Dan Palami admits “the chances are quite slim but that is all they need to attain victory as long as they train with their heart.” And certainly the Filipinos are rooting for them, but whether they do qualify or not, the Azkals has brought football to the hearts of a country that has always been into basketball.
The future Azkals is also here. The Teen Azkals is composed of under-16 years old football players from different high schools in different parts of the Philippines. The team is led by head coach Tomasito Glenn Ramos and manager Alvin Carranza.
If given the proper support, I believe that the Teen Azkals can go a long way. The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) has channeled some of their budgets for the further development of the players since these kids are the future of Philippine Football. If we do well in giving them the necessary support in trainings, mentoring, complete sports gear, and many more, the Philippine football will reap the rewards in the future. If properly trained, this may be the team to propel us to World Cup.
So I say let us all support the present, the Philippine Azkals, and the future of Philippine football, the Teen Azkals.