Limpag: Nonong Araneta vs. John Gutierrez

Fair Play

Columnist Erel Cababat didn’t refer to them by name but it was obvious he was referring to Filipinas manager Jeff Cheng and Philippine Football Federation (PFF) president John Gutierrez in his blind item.

This is why I avoid blind items; your motive and that of your source suddenly become suspect. Because that’s usually the case, the source of a blind item is usually someone who is close to the subject.

The blind item reminds me of what Philippine football lacks, critics. In Nonong Araneta and in Gutierrez’s time, the media parrots what the PFF says and issues are buried.

Just like the issue my friend Erel is raising — the PFF president insisting on locals be included in the youth team. But in this case, I side with the PFF president and ironically, Erel’s blind item supports my stand.

Erel referred to Gutierrez as a president of a national sports association and for me, Gutierrez simply did what he had to do — you can’t be taken seriously as a president of a national sports association if no one from your NSA is part of the youth team.

It’s a simple as that.

The Filipinas model, while successful for the senior team, shouldn’t be used for the youth teams. It’s a lingering issue, one that has been there since 2012 and one that shouldn’t be buried in blind items. It should be discussed in the open.

Two months after the Hanoi Miracle, the PFF Board of Governors met in Cebu and among the topics was how to bridge the gap between the Pinoys who learned their football here and those who learned their football abroad.

It was obvious that the lack of facilities, coaches, tournaments, and football culture meant that gap wouldn’t be minimized in 10 years’ time so the stop-gap solution then was to send a select team to experience Europe’s football culture — the Little Azkals.

But even that stop-gap solution was stopped.

And let’s admit it, our practice of scouting for the best Filipinos and Filipinas abroad for our senior teams, while successful, is a stop-gap solution. Why then should we adopt it for our youth teams?

In fact, I have a radical idea. Since our senior teams are successful because of the diaspora, we should use our youth teams as the gauge as to where we are in the grassroots, and I don’t care whether we lose 1-0 or 18-0.

And by grassroots, I don’t mean youth festivals or what-not, I mean the PFF should get more kids to play the game — and that entails, among other things, making football accessible to the masses. That means more free public fields.

We can’t grow the game if only a certain sector of society — the middle or upper class — have access to the game.

Now back to the blind item. As I said, motives automatically come to play in blind items. And in this case, one can’t help but think because Erel is identified with Dan Palami and Nonong Araneta, that the old admin is making a play against the new admin.

If that’s the case, I will side with Gutierrez. I stuck my neck out for Dan and Nonong in the past but not this time for the same reason that I batted for Peping Cojuangco’s ouster in the POC. We can’t keep having the same officials lead an NSA.


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