I READ an interesting article a few days ago of how the SBP was planning to pit our national youth basketball team against college, D-League and ex-PBA players to hone them for an international meet.
Considering how we are years ahead against our Southeast Asian neighbors, that’s a laudable plan and shows how the SBP is taking youth development seriously.
I contrast that with how our national youth football teams get prepared and formed for international tournaments against neighbors who are leap years ahead of us.
One youth team had its lineup finalized a day before it left for an AFC qualifiers, so scrimmages or even friendly games with teams a level or two higher than them isn’t part of the preparation.
Most of our basketball players are in the NCR region, so maintaining a team isn’t difficult. In contrast, our football players are all over the country and after a tournament, they are dispersed, only to be called up again just weeks (if they’re lucky) before another international outing.
Dan Palami, the Azkals manager, plans to change all of that as he is hoping to take care of the national youth teams next year.
The national youth setup is like the senior team setup pre 2010, there is a lack of a developmental blue print and there’s no clear criteria on the selection of players and coaches.
“And just like before, players chosen somehow comes from the same school or academy that the coach is affiliated with. Maybe coincidence at best and justifiable, but the lack of transparency in the selection process gives rise to doubts,” he told me.
Instead of disbanding the team after an international tournament, Dan wants a pool for Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao and wants them to be playing regularly, because not only do our neighbors play regularly, their youth players breathe and live football.
“So we set up a same system as a senior team, then choose from the pool the final lineup,” he said.
That’s still in the planning board but I think that’s going to be a welcome change. It’s going to be interesting though, where the this pool will be based as FA politics might come to play. But I hope that after the disastrous stints abroad of our national youth team, the stakeholders will leave politics off the table.