IT’S been years since we’ve had a national youth competition run by the Philippine Football Federation, an absence that has been felt by many, especially those who went through the U16 and U19 programs.
The Coke-Go-For-Goal U16 championships was that one tournament high school players looked forward to each year, while the Adidas U19 was for the college students. And I think it’s been more than a decade since the last edition of the two.
Now, we’re going to have another national competition and I think this one is even better. The PFF will hold a national Boys 15 tournament and unlike the Coke and Adidas competitions, which started at the local level, the Boys 15 will start at the regional level. The PFF has divided the member FAs into nine groups and for the Visayas, the Central Visayas Regional Football Association is grouped with Eastern Visayas RFA, Negros Occidental FA, Negros Oriental-Siquijor RFA and Iloilo FA under Group E.
What I like about the tournament is that for the group stage, the teams will play each other twice in a home-and-away format, which means at least eight games for the teams. Though each team can only name a 22-man lineup for each match day, it can nominate 30 to 40 players for the whole tournament and each player must be registered in the PFF database.
Why the big number? It’s simple. The event will run until September, and since the members of the teams are expected to come from the schools, it is expected that they will also be part of their schools’ varsities and have other competitions that they will be involved in aside from this one. So, if 10 or even 20 among the pool aren’t available for a certain day, you still have 20 players to pick from to form your team. That’s the beauty of it.
This has not been done before and I like that the PFF is holding this kind of tournament. I’m not sure if this is a trial run but I hope this will be the first of an annual series for the Boys 15. I expect this to be hugely successful and I expect the PFF will also hold one for the 13-Under or maybe even the 17-Under age groups.
And of course, I’m pretty confident our Boys 15 team will make it all the way to the national finals but as to how they would fare there, I think player availability will be a huge factor.