Philippine football is in the midst of a renaissance with the Azkals national team reaching its highest-ever international ranking, local media finally covering football events regularly and the public supporting soccer like never before.
Alaska Milk leads in taking the next step by supporting a true grassroots development program and sponsoring the visit to the Philippines of FCBEscola football coaches who taught the fundamentals of the sport to young players who are six to 14 years old.
FC Barcelona is the number one ranked football club in the world and FCBEscola has heldped produce some of the world’s best players like Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta. The football camp provided a unique opportunity for young Filipino players to experience and learn not just the playing style but the philosophy as well of FC Barcelona.
The camp was organized by United Football League Division Two squad Team Soccerroo. One hundred forty eight children aged six to 14 years old participated in the five-day clinic under the supervision of FCBEscola coaches Jose Moatalla and Jordy Blanco. They were helped by hand-picked local coaches.
“Right now we have no chance in the big leagues of football like the World Cup. But Philippine football is growing and we see the camp as a tool to learn from the best in the world. We should invest in the youth, those who are eight, nine, ten years old. They should be properly trained. They should have proper nutrition. We should have a grass roots training program including one for public schools. In time I have no doubt we will get there and succeed in the sport of football,” FCBEscola Philippines organizer Michael Reyes said.
Reyes is himself a product of the Alaska football program in the Philippines. He played in the Alaska Power Camps where he learned not just football skills but the proper values to succeed in the sport and in life in general.
“Alaska made football alive in the country,” said Reyes. “It has supported Philippine football long before it was fashionable to support football. Playing in the Alaska Power Camps during summer is something young football players grew up looking forward to. It has helped me and my siblings develop a passion for the sport. Alaska has provided the venue for the sport to grow in.”
Reyes added that it was not by accident that they choose to bring in FCBEscola to visit the Philippines.
“Philippine football is experiencing tremendous growth. It is important to learn from the best. It is just as important to learn from those who are physically similar to Filipinos. Filipino football players like FC Barcelona players are not that tall. But we are very fast, very agile and learning from them will help us develop our full potential,” said Reyes.
For his part, Blanco confessed that he is looking forward to teaching young Filipino football players skills, as well as the “discipline and philosophy” behind the “world-class” play of FC Barcelona.
“It’s important for us to be in the Philippines for the first time. We can teach the secret behind the philosophy (of the club). To score you need to keep the ball. To keep the ball you need to move a lot. And to have the ball and to keep the ball in possession you have to be good in techniques. If the children put passion in what they do then that is what they will learn in the camp.That is what we teach them,” said Blanco.
Organizers admitted that the camp was not affordable to everyone, but they are looking for ways to lower the price and involve children from poor families. This year, two youth players from Smokey Mountain in Manila were able to enroll through the help of sponsors. They said they hoped to set up a permanent football school in the country.
“We’re looking towards that,” said Steven Chua, operations director of FCBEscola in the Asia-Pacific region. “We’ll go one step at a time. For now we have this camp. Just watch how they play at the start of the camp. Then watch them play during the last days. I promise that in a span of five days you will see dramatic improvement in the way they play the game. “
The FCBEscola official said players will have a better understanding of how the game is played through the camp. Better understanding of the mechanics of the sport will help participants become better players.
“After the camp they will understand why they need to move here to be able to make a move with the football. They will know why they need to do a specific action. Winning is not the main thing. Understanding and playing the game well is the important thing. We have very good coahes who are very good with the children. They are compassionate. They bring goods values to the sport,” said Chua.
This is the first time that FCBEscola conducted a football camp in the Philippines. With the success of the camp another visit in the country is already planned sometime in August or September.
In bringing the camp to train children the organizers recognized the role of children in the developing the sport.
Engaging children is the only way to ensure the growth of football. Additionally playing sports and participating in physical activity compliments a child’s growth and development. It instills in them the proper values of determination, hard work, teamwork, discipline and sportsmanship.
The organizers recognized the importance of having a wholistic approach to ensure the success of their program.
“In helping develop a sport proper nutrition is just as important as teaching children proper techniques. This is why it’s important to team up with an organization like Alaska Milk. Proper nutrition goes hand-in-hand with proper coaching and training in developing players at a young age,” said Reyes.
Alaska Milk does not just sell milk products. It helps nourish children and develop champions through through its various sports development programs. Alaska aims to shape, train, challenge and inspire children to become champions through programs such as bringing the FCBEscola to the Philippines.