YOUTH development is one of the main focuses of the Philippine football in the coming years and to spread the popularity of football to the different regions and not just in Manila, a Fifa representative said.

“You need more football clubs that have youth players playing regularly in a league. This is how you produce players. This will make sure that a new generation of players are ready,” said Mike Pfister, Fifa’s Senior Development Manager of the Member Associations & Development Division, after the Fifa Organizational Review/Leadership Retreat last Saturday at the Shangri-la Mactan Resort and Spa in Lapu-Lapu City.

Pfister said that the aim is to spread the popularity of football to different regions, and not just center it all in Manila.

“We just spent the past week discussing elements of football in the Philippines. It’s not just what happens in the pitch, what happens outside of it is also a factor,” he said “We are assisting Philippine Football Federation (PFF) on its strategic plans in terms of technical assistance, looking for ways to improve facilities and infrastructures,” said Pfister.

Pfister said that part of the plan is to work better in the regional associations, because football is developed in the provinces and in the regions of the country.

Pfister said that compared to 2012, there is an improvement in Philippine football and the focus now is to continue its improvement and growth nationwide.

“The foundation has been laid, the governance framework is in place, the organization is stable and the national team has improved,” he said. “Compared to five years ago, the Philippines has come very far. I think two big challenges is to keep the momentum of the popularity of the sport going.”

In 2010, the Philippines was ranked 149th in the world. Now, the country is currently rated 120th and went up as high as 115th.

Pfister said that it doesn’t matter if football is not the most popular or the second most popular sport in the country. What is more important is to raise a sporting culture of football in the country.

He said that to improve the sport, there must be a regular league to be played regularly, and the country is not there yet.

“The one thing about football, the room is not built overnight, there is no shortcut to developing sport. It takes a lot of hard work with the youth, grassroots, to get schools to cooperate. There will be a lot of sweat and tears. It must be a continued effort and it will take decades,” said Pfister.

Pfister said that the country has competent people but what is lacking is the number.

“You have the competent people, but you need a lot more of numbers of instructors. If you compare a football instructor from the Philippines from some of the bigger football nations in Asia, there is a big gap. And again, that is a snapshot of today, but if you look years back, the numbers is a little bit lower in the country,” he said.