PHILIPPINE Southeast Asian Games chief of mission Jeff Tamayo admitted he had wanted to include the national Under-23 men’s football team in the delegation to the SEA Games in Myanmar, but it was simply beyond his control.
The SEA Games task force is only a recommendatory body, and Tamayo said he could do nothing but accept the decision of the Philippine Olympic Committee and the Philippine Sports Commission of excluding the U-23 Azkals from the contingent.
“As far as sports for all, football ang gusto kong itulak talaga eh, kaya parang medyo getting put in the spot din ako dito,” Tamayo told Spin.ph.
“Bagay na bagay sa Pilipino ang football. And never has it been na ganito ka-ganda ng programa ng (Philippine) football,” added Tamayo, a former national taekwondo jin who also had dreams of nurturing a football career.
Tamayo’s son Bala also once made it as a 16-under national football team member, but his stint was hampered by an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury. The younger Tamayo is now 24 years old and an army officer.
“Kinukulit nga ako 'nun eh,” the elder Tamayo said. “Ako, nung bago ako sa taekwondo, football ako nanggaling din. In fact, sa La Salle, I was gonna play kaya lang yung mga kasama ko mas magaling.”
Tamayo included the men’s and women’s football teams to the initial “entry by number,” but only the Malditas received the go signal.
"Nagpapasalamat kami kay Jeff kasi talagang he looks at the whole picture and what our association is doing for the development of the sport,” Philippine Football Federation president Nonong Araneta said.
As the SEA Games contingent head, Tamayo said he had to be fair to other national sports associations, citing the criteria that an athlete or a team should be a potential gold-medalist to be included.
“Dapat kasi pantay-pantay sa NSAs eh. Based on records, sa 2012 and 2013 na potential gold or a previous gold medal, wala talaga.”
“At least the women’s team was allowed,” Tamayo said.