What Philippine football needs | Inquirer Opinion

What Philippine football needs

/ 05:03 AM December 09, 2022

This World Cup season is a good time to reflect and peruse the state of football in the Philippines beyond that of the Azkals phenomenon. To be fair, the team has become sort of a standard in Philippine football. While it’s true that the phenomenal Azkals contributed to bringing football to the level of success it now enjoys, there is much more about football to ponder, especially when it comes to attracting the interest of the future of this sport—today’s youths.

In terms of popularity and following, football lags behind the more established basketball, but it is slowly catching up and fast gaining ground, especially with the historic Asean Football Federation (AFF) win of the women’s national team this year. Those who play the sport, whether professionally or not, can attest to the overall benefits of the sport from the physical, mental, social, and even financial for those who go pro. Sure, there is also the possibility of injuries like in any other contact sport, but calculated risks, penalties, and the principle of sportsmanship serve as protective shields that lessen such incidence.


The beauty of football as a sport lies in the values and discipline it instills in today’s realities. There is a goal we aspire for, and in order to achieve that, we go through the arduous process of preparation, strategizing, and being in the moment as we tackle the challenges that come our way. Footballers learn discipline and diplomacy in dealing with most about everyone from their trainers, to their teammates, and even opponents. They learn not just physical but also character strengthening and perseverance to get to the goal, and when a goal is finally made, it is a most gratifying feat. The entire team rejoices with each goal because it shows that teamwork and team spirit is working. Like in life, practice makes perfect, which explains the daily training and routines footballers get accustomed to.

In the Philippines, football among the youth is not as accessible as the ubiquitous basketball, where the support of private individuals and companies, along with the government, has been more generous. Sure, all sports must be supported. It’s just that some sports get more support than others, which is not the case for football, where upkeep and subsidy for training come mostly from out-of-pocket expenses of parents, aficionados, football club owners, and managers. Without comprehensive national support, it becomes a preselected sport where only those who can afford can get their children to train. The football fields and pitches used for training are often located in exclusive sports clubs, country clubs, and subdivisions that are not easily reached by public transport. In some cases, football clubs subsidize the training of indigent youths with potential, but this is not enough to advance the development and equity in the sport. That is the stark reality for football in the country. However, the government can still make it possible for more youths to train by providing more support and subsidy for training, equipment, and venues, such as fields and pitches for example.


Many countries are able to provide subsidies despite poverty or lack of resources. Take for example Brazil and Croatia, which produced quite a number of superstars. Moreover, economic status or height is not a hindrance to dreaming big in this sport. In his teen years, Ronaldo became a street sweeper to support his training. Pelé, Neymar, and Ronaldinho talked about their humble beginnings playing football in Brazil and the transformation it brought into their lives. Zlatan is sometimes reminded of the times his family had only bread to eat. Mbappé recalled starting his training on improvised football pitches in the slum district of Paris. Messi experienced not having enough money to pay for his medications.

My son plays football. Whenever he comes home from training and games with a big smile on his face, I wish I was a painter who can capture all the joy that emanates from him. He may or may not play professionally later on, but for now, the effect of the sport on him is already a reward in itself. Being witness to the fair amount of time he played in matches and practices he attended, I promised myself to watch his games as often as possible. Seeing how football games are organized with a huge amount of effort from training, preparations, scheduling, gathering of players, coaches, and officiating teams to finding sponsors, it’s a pity not to be able to witness the outcome of the work that is put together every single match.

Just as there are different kicks in football from free kicks, corner kicks, goal kicks, to gripping penalty kicks, the possibilities for the youths who engage in football are aplenty. For starters, throw in a chance for them to discover their potential in sports. It can be a worthwhile and transformative experience to cherish for a lifetime.

Someone said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Make that “a thousand fun in scoring a goal begins with one kick.” I haven’t even started talking about the excitement and the social benefits of just being in the audience watching football, yet.


Tess Q. Raposas is a freelance journalist passionate about travel and conversations.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: Azkals, football, sports
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.
Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Fearless views on the news

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

© Copyright 1997-2023 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.