Freddy Gonzales returns; Rodney Orale gets spot in technical committee

(This is my Fair Play column for SunStar Cebu’s Jan. 15, 2024 edition)

During the pre-social media era and at a time when mainstream media ignored Philippine football, almost every young footballer has heard of Freddy Gonzales, that gifted striker of the national team who somehow found his way to the V-League.

He was used as an example, as a hope that the Filipino footballer can indeed succeed in the international stage. I never got to see him play as nobody bothered to air the matches of the national team, but the fact that he stood out during a time when teams looked to pad their goal difference whenever they met the Philippines was a testament of how talented he was.

PRESTIGIOUS POST. Central Visayas Football Association president Rodney Orale (second from left) has been appointed as co-chairman of the PFF Technical and Development Committee.

It was just bad luck and bad timing though that he was not part of the 2004 Tiger Cup squad, the team that for me started the change in Philippine football culminating in the Hanoi Miracle.

I learned from then manager Aris Caslib that Freddy’s wedding was scheduled near the Tiger Cup, hence he wasn’t part of the squad in 2004, the time when Ali Borromeo was top striker. What a potent combination the two would have been.

During the 2004 to 2007 era, when the national team, now known as the Azkals, began setting milestones in the Southeast Asian Games and the Asean Championships with the entry of the Younghusband brothers and other European-based Pinoys, Gonzales was forgotten.

Now he’s back with Philippine football, this time as director for the national teams, a post he is most suited for.

PFF president John Guttierez wants to give our homegrown players the chance to compete with those raised abroad for spots in the national teams and Gonzalez is the man for the job.

Of course, the men’s squad has been in a funk lately and we can’t expect the new guys in charge to be miracle workers, but I hope aside from the senior teams, they’ll be looking at the youth teams also.

RODNEY’S APPOINTMENT. CVFA president Rodney Orale got a major boost of confidence from the PFF after he was appointed as co-chairman of the PFF technical and development committee, which will oversee the development of youth football, futsal and beach soccer.

It’s a boost, too, for the Cebu football community, which was often touted by the PFF as an example of an effective association due to the unity among stakeholders.

Rodney is one of the most hardworking and unassuming people I know and I’m confident he will do great things in his new post. I think this also means more opportunities for futsal and beach soccer in Cebu.

Good luck Mr. Orale.

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