With a big global brand expected to back the country’s professional football league in the next three years, Philippine Football Federation president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta vowed to come up with more programs that will benefit age-group players in the future.
Araneta said the impending sponsorship of Qatar Airways to the Philippines Football League will allow the PFF to allot funds for a national Under-17 tournament starting next year.
“We want to start the Under-17 tournament next year,” he said, noting that the PFF had also begun holding a national Under-15 tournament this year that is now in its final stages.
“We really have a lot of football activities coming in and I want to see that this is being implemented properly. We are not neglecting players at the age-group level. In fact, we have been revitalizing our grassroots program to find more homegrown talents in the country.”
On top of the national Under-17 tournament, Araneta said the PFF will also hold Under-16 and Under-18 regional tournament for girls as part of its thrust to develop women’s football. The PFF chief hopes these tournaments will lead to improved performances for the age-group teams in international tournaments.
Araneta is seeking a fresh term as PFF president in the coming elections on Nov. 29. He reportedly has the backing of 25 of the 32 regional football association representatives when he announced his candidacy in Bacolod City, the hometown of presidential hopeful, Ricky Yanson.
In his eight years as the country’s top football executive, Araneta steered the country’s men and women’s national teams to its highest FIFA ranking. The PFF was also feted by the Asian Football Confederation three times for its grassroots programs.
Araneta is hopeful the entry of Qatar Airways will trigger more support from local companies to football. “Qatar Airways is a global brand and hopefully we have local brands that will join the sponsorship,” said Araneta.
“There are still a lot of ways to improve the league. The sponsorship really allows the federation And aside from that, some money will go into the federation wherein we can spend also the league for other programs.”