When Central Visayas Football Association (CVFA) president Rodney Orale told me that newly elected president John Gutierrez would be in Cebu on Jan. 28, I knew I had to be there. Even if it meant traveling early for a three-hour drive despite attending two barangay fiestas in Moalboal.
So early Sunday, I was at the Dynamic Herb Football Stadium and joined their meeting. And my first observation was that Mr. Gutierrez isn’t like any Philippine Football Federation (PFF) president I’ve encountered ever since I started covering Philippine football in the mid ‘90s.
While he knows there are some immediate steps needed, he has an eye on the future. He wants to make sure the steps taken now won’t burden the future.
Take the case of the number of regional FA members. Currently the PFF has 36, but has slots for 66 but at the end of his term, Sir John hopes to raise the number of RFAs to 45, way below the allotted 66.
Why? He wants to accept new RFAs because they deserve to be accepted, not just to fill the numbers, giving the future president room to grow.
Not only that, he wants more Filipinos to have access to a decent pitch — not a World Cup venue quality pitch, but a decent one. That’s why he’s looking at the PFF funding pitches in areas all over the country where neighboring RFAs can share. Pitches that have to be accessible: Quantity over quality.
Where will this funding come from? Sir John said that thanks to his predecessor, Sir Nonong Araneta, there are international investors willing to fund them.
And I also like that he shares my view about Philippine football that we are basically beggars right now. Some in the community, because of the resurgence since 2010, have taken a stance that the government should support football, but that’s not the reality.
There are local government units (LGUs) left and right who are putting up their own sports centers, some with a football pitch only as an afterthought. Sir John said we should take that as a positive and said any LGU who would seek the help of the PFF in putting up a Fifa quality pitch would get such help, free of charge. Any LGU who would do so sans PFF help would be looked at as a potential partner for football.
Our current president is a visionary, but one who acknowledges the realities of Philippine football. I think those are traits that would take Philippine football a step ahead.