PHILIPPINE football officials on Tuesday remained optimistic the country’s sports officials will have a “change of heart” in their decision to exclude the football and futsal teams in the Philippine delegation to the Southeast Asian Games this December.
Azkals team manager and Philippine Football Federation (PFF) national teams committee chairman Dan Palami said he’ll continue to bat for the inclusion of football in the country’s SEA Games contingent despite reports that non-medal contenders would be left behind for Myanmar.
Not only did the sportsman-businessman assure that costs of sending the teams will be shouldered by private sponsors, but Palami is also positive football is capable of producing medals this time after the men’s team, composed of under-23 players, fared poorly in the 2011 edition of the meet in Indonesia.
The 23-under Azkals failed to advance to the knockout phase of the SEA Games two years ago, while women’s football was not included in the meet’s calendar of events.
Still, Palami lamented the logic behind the criteria of the joint Philippine Olympic Committee and Philippine Sports Commission Task Force to only send potential gold medalists to the SEA Games.
“We will send a team that will make the Philippines proud…and because we believe in them. Isn’t that the essence of competition?” Palami said at the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum.
The men’s football team, composed of booters 23-years-old and younger, and the Malditas have already started preparations for the biennial regional tournament.
Palami even compared the football teams’ inclusion to SEA Games to the ongoing Wimbledon, a grand-slam tennis tournament in England, where unheralded players Steve Darcis and Sabine Lisicki beat fancied netters Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams, respectively.
“If the Wimbledon were the Southeast Asian games, then we would’ve deprived the chance of seeing somebody beat the likes of Nadal. If (Nadal’s conqueror) were a Filipino and it were the SEA Games, we would not have sent him right?”
Palami, though, remains hopeful the country’s sports leaders will eventually change their minds.
“I do believe our sports officials are rational beings and if they see the reasoning behind all these things, I think we feel they will have a change of heart,” Palami said.
PFF head of communications Ebong Joson reiterated the PFF has yet to receive an official communication from the SEA Games Task Force about the matter.
Only then, Joson said, will the PFF file a formal complaint.
“Right now, status quo muna with the teams preparing as if they are part of the SEA Games,” Joson said.