Exciting times ahead for Philippine futsal
MANILA, Philippines — In April of 2019, renowned Dutch futsal coach Vic Hermans arrived at the behest of the local sport authorities to assess the futsal program in the country.
Hermans, who made a name for himself coaching futsal all over the world, quickly fell in love with the burgeoning program in the country. In fact, he returned in September of the same year, to help put things in place.
“Vic fell in love with our vision of futsal that focused on building from the base and using the sport to make a positive impact on Filipino communities and lives. He is a legend in the sport who turned down more high profile and higher paying jobs to commit to three years in laying the groundwork for futsal in the Philippines,” described Moran Foundation director, Kevin Goco. “And those three years will start when the current pandemic allows us to re-start.”
According to Philippine Football Federation president Nonong Araneta, “It is evident that futsal has grown in participation and popularity in the Philippines over the last few years. Our main focus right now is building the base of futsal by focusing on developing grassroots, youth players, competitions, coaches and referees. The goal is that eventually these efforts will all lead up to a strong and sustainable national team program. We recognize that a strong futsal program will only help develop and promote football in the country.”
When futsal was introduced as a demonstration sport for secondary school girls at the Palarong Pambansa in 2014, the female participation in the sport at the secondary school level in the country increased considerably, especially in the provinces. By 2017, girls futsal became a regular sport for secondary school girls in the Department of Education and would have extended down to girls elementary this year had it not been for COVID. Even the Philippine Sports Commission took notice of the game’s growth in the country and made futsal a regular event for both boys and girls in their Batang Pinoy youth games.
“We saw the dramatic increase in participation not just in the public sector, but also in privately organized activities lead by groups like Allianz and the Moran Foundation,” added Goco who also serves the sport’s department head with the PFF. “Due to the support of DepEd in introducing futsal as a regular sport for secondary school in the Palarong Pambansa, as a matter of futsal development policy, we prioritized women’s futsal as the program that will take the lead in futsal development in the country, without of course sacrificing development and focus on the boys.”
Futsal as whole has taken off globally. Due to this growth, the sport was introduced as an official event in the 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires for girls.
France, the hosts of the 2024 Olympics in Paris, has submitted a plan/bid to make futsal a demonstration sport and eventually a regular sport at the Olympic games for both men and women.
In 2015, the Asian Football Confederation introduced a women’s futsal championship to go with its men’s and club futsal competitions with the regional ASEAN Football Federation kicking off the inaugural U18 boys futsal competition to complement in 2018 its men’s open futsal competition.
Added Goco, “We are laying the grassroots program and youth foundations for futsal now to take advantage of these trends in the game’s development. We believe that if done properly, a well thought of and executed plan between the PSC, DepEd, and the PFF could create a competitive girls national futsal team internationally.”
Since 2016, the PFF has collaborated with the Henry V. Moran Foundation, the Department of Education, the Philippine Sports Commission, and the Allianz National Youth Futsal Invitational in a shared effort toward providing youth more opportunities to play and develop.
In 2015, the Liga Eskwela initially worked with 11 public elementary schools from Pasig, Mandaluyong, Muntinlupa, Quezon City, Makati, and Taguig. Two years later, with the support of DepEd NCR, the program expanded to over 300 schools in all 16 Department of Education (DepEd) School Divisions in the National Capitol Region.
In collaboration with the Department of Education and the PFF, the Moran Foundation provided resource persons to deliver trainings to public school teachers on basic coaching (organizing game-based drills), refereeing, and competition management. The Foundation also provided resource persons to help run and organize local competitions for Division and Cluster meets to complement activities scheduled for Palarong Pambansa.
“Even with COVID, we are still going ahead with our plans for futsal in the country,” summed up Goco. “Coach Vic Hermans presence in the country will level up all our efforts and by the time the pandemic ends, we’re going full steam ahead with all these plans. It’s going to be a very exciting time for Philippine futsal.”