PHILIPPINE Football Federation president Nonong Araneta on Tuesday took offense at sweeping statements made by PFF presidential aspirant Ricky Yanson, who claimed that grassroots and age-group players have been neglected during Araneta’s term in the last eight years.
Araneta, a former national team player and coach, who was first elected PFF president in 2011, expressed disappointment over the current Negros Occidental Football Association president’s pronouncements which came after the former reiterated his bid to win the PFF presidency.
The PFF elections is part of the agenda during the PFF Congress on Nov. 29 when 32 regional associations under the federation will vote for the person to lead football in the next four years.
“Sorry for the term, but napabayaan (neglected) ang grassroots,” said Yanson.
But Araneta said his administration had not been remiss in the grassroots aspect of the sport in the country.
“If I trusted Ricky enough, I would not have ran for president again,” said Araneta, who also pointed out that Yanson has some governance issues in his own organization.
“We have to keep the momentum going for Philippine football. Most of the PFF’s programs are already in place, including the Philippines Football League which is about to gain a new sponsor. More sponsorships will allow us to give more to grassroots as well.”
Araneta found irony at the fact that Yanson did not even call a single meeting for the PFF grassroots committee of which Yanson has been chairman since 2015.
“The NOFA Cup is an initiative in his capacity as NOFA president, but what about programs from the PFF grassroots committee?,” Araneta questioned.
“We have programs for the grassroots, but it was not crafted by the committee that (Ricky) heads because he has not even called a single meeting for his committee.”
Araneta complimented Yanson for holding his own tournaments, but stressed that running the PFF is more than just spending and organizing for two to three-day events.
“There is a governance aspect in running the affairs of football in the Philippines,” said Araneta.
“The problem is that Ricky has his own issues within NOFA. He has not called a single meeting in his own organization. He was due to call an election late last year or early this year, but he has not done it. Ricky was also absent in the last two meetings of the PFF Board of Governors and the last one was actually held in Bacolod City where he lives. How can he run football in this country when he can’t even fix his own backyard.”
Araneta said the PFF has existing Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Education in promoting and developing the game in public schools. “It seems that Ricky is not aware of this,” Araneta added.
The PFF has also launched the Training Area Development program in Bacolod and Bukidnon with Japanese youth development consultant Reiji Hirata at the helm. Under this program, 30 select youth players are trained by coaches weekly. “We have been investing in youth football,” said Araneta.
The PFF has been awarded by the Asian Football Confederation three times for its grassroots programs. The PFF National Under-15 tournament is on its final stages, while a national Under-17 competition is set to be held next year.
Araneta said the rise of the men and women’s national teams in recent years is a testament to the PFF’s efforts to grow the game in the country. Both the men and women’s teams reached the AFC Asian Cup for the first time in the last two years.
“We are trying different approaches whether it is to make the PFL stronger and sustainable to encourage our young players to see football as a career or to strengthening the national teams to attract more interest for the sport,” said Araneta. “It is not an easy task, but we’ve been trying our best in the last eight years. We may have not been making noise in the media enough, but trust me, we’ve been doing our job."