PHILIPPINE football should take a step back, come up with a proper plan and establish a platform with a strong foundation.
To do this, football stakeholders should work together to ensure sustainability in the professional league.
Speaking at the 6th “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom, football legend Anton del Rosario said he has reached out to officials of the Philippine Football League (PFL) to find ways to better promote the sport of football.
“We really need to take a step back, come up wth a proper plan and work together to be able to manage the sport properly,” said Del Rosario during the weekly sports forum sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
Del Rosario, the American-born Filipino football player who played for the Philippine Azkals from 2004-2014, said the PFL should focus on creating a platform that has a good foundation and sustainability.
“The PFF (Philippine Footbal Federation) has had the opportunity to do so. Hopefully, they will look to the future into creating a stronger foundation,” said Del Rosario, also the organizer of the highly-successful Philam Life 7s football tournament.
“I look at the PFL as the platform where we make dreams happen,” added the 38-year-old Del Rosario.
“Every sports needs to be able to have that platform. Our goal is to play for the Azkals. But in order to find the Azkals players, you need a professional league. But with that pro league, we need to create sustainability. With sustainability, kids will now be able to keep on looking at wanting to play for the Azkals.”
But Del Rosario lamented the fact that several teams are now falling out of the PFL due to financial trouble.
“Times are really hard right now not only in football but also in other sports. But if we keep on seeing teams fall out of the PFL, like Ceres and Global FC, it’s not healthy. And that’s where we have to focus on and create sustainability.”
Del Rosario said teams can’t just be looking to winning championships.
“Focus should only not be on winning but also on the livelihood of their players,” explained Del Rosario.
“I believe that’s what happening in the PFL over the last few years. People who have money coming in and dumping salaries to the top players and creating a big gap between the top teams and the other teams. It’s like Ceres and Kaya versus other teams. The other teams never get to see that opportunity because people are throwing too much much money up there while others cannot.”
Del Rosario, who also participated in the “Amazing Race Philippines” with his older brother Armand in 2012, said introducing a salary cap is something the PFF should now implement.
“I was a player of Global FC but I stopped playing for them about 1 1/2 or two years ago. They still owe me back wages of six months of pay. The other players maybe two years of pay. It’s one of the things that unfortunately happened.”
“When it comes down to my team Maharlika FC, I made it clear from the start that we don’t have enough funds to be able to play. So all the players will be joining us for their love and passion of the sport.”
He said the private sector should also come out and start supporting these professional teams because they “do make the dreams happen for the youth.”
“But teams should also take on responsibilty to make sure to create a fan base and a nice sustainable group for the kids,” he added.