The Philippine futsal team is putting its best foot forward as it embarks on a “strategic and sustainable program” that should serve the country well in future international meets.
“We’re trying to build a long-term program,” said Philippine Football Federation Futsal head Kevin Goco during Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum.
A newly-formed women’s team, known as the Pinays, will get the ball rolling with a two-game friendly against Guam, dubbed as “Pinay5 Futsal Faceoff,” on Oct. 15 and 16 at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.
The futsal program comes on the heels of the success being enjoyed by the Philippine women’s football team and its historic entry into next year’s FIFA WorldCup.
“This is the first step in a long journey,” added Goco, who was joined at the forum by Dutch coach Vic Herman, a seasoned futsal technician who has served as head coach to six national teams.
Herman first visited the country in 2015, but was tapped to officially share his expertise with the Philippine futsal team only last March. He’s here now on a full-time basis.
The 69-year-old Herman, who has coached national teams from Hong Kong, Malaysia, Iran, Malta, Thailand and Indonesia, has high hopes for Philippine futsal.
“I can describe it very easily. The Philippines has the talent. But we must do something. The gap is not too big but if you don’t do anything the gap will get bigger and bigger,” he said.
“The goal is to bring them to the top,” he added during the weekly forum presented by San Miguel Corporation, MILO, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, Amelie Hotel Manila, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.
For now, the team is made up of local-bred players because it’s more practical to develop them first and boost the program than spend a lot of money bringing in players from other countries.
“What is the cost of that? The cost is so high to bring in players from Germany. Or should we put the money for the development of players here – players who live here who grew up here?” he said.
“There’s so much more talent that we want to see here. But we already have the potential in this team. We play next week and then we will see,” added Herman, adding that the goal is to be competitive in FIFA and AFC events.
Unfortunately, futsal is not in the calendar of events for next year’s SEA Games in Cambodia.
“We want to put the Philippines in the best position possible,” added Goco, who is counting on the support of the PFF and the Philippine Sports Commission under chairman Noli Eala.
The current team was culled from a pool of 30 players, some of them products of the Palarong Pambansa and Batang Pinoy, and from as far as Dipolog, Pagadian and Davao.
“We will work on the men’s team as well but we’re starting with the women’s team first,” he said, adding that futsal will provide Filipinas who are into football another avenue to show their skills.