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Around 4 months ago, the decision was made to host a series of international futsal friendlies in the Philippines to serve as a diagnostic exam for a very young pool of girls Coach Vic Hermans wanted to form and mold for the long-term future.
Hosting a futsal international in the Philippines was never done before, so while Coach Vic scoured the rubble left behind by COVID to find the right players the big challenge was to make this idea of hosting an international match a reality – we needed to find a venue, a surface, an opponent and all the necessary things needed to put this on given a very limited budget.
Through Coach Vic’s network, we quickly got the commitment from Guam, a member association who are also looking to invest in women’s futsal. It was also helpful that Guam FA President Tino San Gil is a close friend of the PFF.
For the last 2 years, the Ninoy Aquino stadium served as a quarantine facility for COVID, and by July the stadium became available. It needed a lot of touching up, but at least we had a stadium that can fit a standard 40x20m international futsal match. I can’t thank Atty G. Iroy enough for his full support on this.
The next challenge was the surface. PFF has no futsal taraflex surface of its own. Gerflor, the main local supplier of indoor surfaces only had in stock the smaller volleyball and basketball-sized taraflex courts, and these were not sufficient for international futsal. Buying from Gerflor would also cost us millions of pesos, which a fledging futsal program can’t afford at this time. But fortunate and grateful that after reaching out to them, the Philippine Handball Federation allowed us to use their surface that can cover the 40x20m area with an international standard taraflex surface. But that handball surface had no lines. So we needed to tape the lines in. A contact abroad in FIFA/AFC was selling me tape for USD600, which was way over our budget for the lining of P7,000, so grateful we had technical staff in PSC who found local “Recto” solutions to the tape lining from their time hosting the 2019 SEA Games. FIFA Futsal referee Rey Ritaga was the hero here as he guided PSC workers on how to properly line a futsal court to international standards. As Match Comm Red Avelino was so helpful in setting up the competition venue.
The last challenge was the relative inexperience of myself and the PFF staff in organizing and broadcasting futsal, under a very tight and restricted budget. The PFF can organize an international football match in its sleep, but futsal was totally new. There were a lot of minor glitches along the way, but overall it was a good first step full of learnings and areas for improvement. Grateful to so many peeps, but especially to Coco Torre Robin Cainglet Dennis Sinned Mark Dennis Balbin Mikhail de Guzman and Cedelf Tupas for the sleepless nights and for finding creative ways to accomplish things under cost. Also grateful that AFC Match Commissioner for Futsal Ebong Joson (a former drama teacher of mine at ISM) dropped by to give great constructive feedback on where we need to improve.
To the Pinay5 team – it’s a work in progress, but I am excited for this young group of girls many of whom come from really disadvantaged and challenging backgrounds. And when I hear their stories, it adds so much meaning, hope, and purpose for me in doing this. Talent and technical ability are evident, and the girls are very lucky to have Vic guiding them. I hope they make the most of that experience. The squad is 16-20 years old, but they already show good team spirit and bond. I hope as the play opens up we can incorporate more provincial girls in public schools and local barangays who are just waiting to be given that opportunity and chance to shine at an international level.
The Pinay5 barely scratched the surface of what I know and have seen a Vic Hermans lead program can play at the highest level, and it is a first step in what will be a long-term development project. Now we can pinpoint and analyze where we need to improve.
Finally, I would like to thank Sir Nonong Araneta, Tito Danny Moran, Vincent Santos, Engineer Rodney Orale, and the rest of the PFF Futsal Committee for really believing in this idea from the first time it was pitched to the final buzzer in game 2. The pandemic put this on hold for 2-3 years. So now begins the journey…. on to the next one.
Kevin Goco is a Director at The Henry V. Moran Foundation, and the head of the Futsal Department at the Philippine Football Federation.
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