TOP sports officials are batting for the inclusion of a football team in the Philippine delegation to the 2015 Southeast Asian Games in the wake of the Azkals' semifinal finish in the AFF Suzuki Cup.
Julian Camacho, chief of mission of the Philippine team to next year’s SEA Games, said he is all for an Under-23 men’s team joining the delegation to the Singapore showpiece - two years after a football team failed to pass the screening for the 2013 Games in Myanmar.
Camacho, however, said it will be the collegial decision of the SEA Games management committee, which is set to meet this week to discuss certain details like criteria and possible composition of athletes for next year’s Games.
“Actually, pag-uusapan pa namin ‘yan. Hindi pa namin na-dedecide,” Camacho said. “Pero malamang papasok ‘yun.”
An Under-23 team did not compete in the SEA Games two years ago after failing to get the nod of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) screening committee which only wanted ‘potential gold medalists’ in the delegation.
But the Azkals' recent success should work in favor of the SEA Games team's bid to hurdle the screening. The seniors side made it to the semifinals of the AFF Suzuki Cup. Prior to the tournament, the Azkals were also the top team in Southeast Asia based on Fifa rankings.
Camacho also bared the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) has already submitted possible names for the Under-23 team, underlying their intention to be represented in the SEA Games.
“Nakikita naman na maganda ang performance nila. Actually, nag-submit na sila ng mga pangalan and passports for documentation. Although hindi pa sila sigurado, at least nandyan na ‘yung papeles nila,” Camacho said.
POC vice-president Joey Romasanta is also in favor of the inclusion of an Under-23 men’s football team in the SEA Games-bound delegation but hopes the PFF will be able to form a competitive team next year.
“I’m for football to be included,” Romasanta said. “Ang problema kasi the last time was ‘yung Under-23, walang record kaya hindi makasama. Sinasabi naman nila na may laban pero they should try their best to make sure that the team is competitive."