About a decade ago, when our Girls U14 squad won the first medal in football for the country for almost a generation, I was surprised to hear there were some complaints about player selection. It seemed, homegrown players were disappointed that after having gone through so many levels in the selection process, they learned spots on the team were limited because players based abroad got guaranteed spots.
I didn’t pay much attention to that nor did I write about it as I didn’t want to rock the boat.
But I was reminded of that when I learned about the girls youth camps abroad this year. I thought that’s a bit strange, considering the girls here never had such camps. The strangeness of the youth girls team selection process is made even more obvious with the Philippine Football Federation going back to the old school U19 competition in choosing the youth team–players going through an elimination round and a regional and national finals to separate the elite.
But then I remember the girls’ youth teams are going to follow the Filipinas model, where they scour for players all over the world.
I think that’s wrong.
The Filipinas’ success has raised the number of girls taking up the game and we should give the best-of-the-best of the locals the chance to compete internationally, so they can level up.
This is going to be an unpopular opinion, but I think we should limit the number of players based abroad who get spots in the youth teams.
Why? We’ve all known that Pinays raised in football countries have the advantage because of all the trainings and competitions they’ve gone through, an advantage our locals don’t enjoy. For a homegrown player to get to that level, she’s going to be one-of-a-kind and we need the number of one-of-a-kind locals to increase but that won’t happen if we have youth team exclusively made up of overseas Filipinos.
We can’t develop our next Sarina Bolden if our handful of exceptional players don’t get that chance to play international youth football.
PFF president John Gutierrez has said he wants to develop homegrown talents and we can’t do that if we adopt the Filipinas model in the youth system. Of course, that doesn’t mean we should also shut our doors to Pinoys raised abroad. I think setting a ratio for homegrown to overseas Pinoys in a team might do the trick.
That way, we can have our pick of overseas Pinoys, the really exceptional ones that can turn a game with their presence, and also give a chance for locals to be exposed to international play and improve.
I mean, let’s face the reality, for a Pinay raised abroad to be considered good enough for the Philippine youth team, she’s a dime a dozen in her home country; but for a local to be at the level or even close to the level of that Pinay raised abroad, not only is she one-of-a-kind, she has to have hurdled so many challenges to be at that level. The PFF has to give that local that chance.
Before things get out of hand, I hope the PFF reins in and corrects the girls’ youth team setup.
We can’t use the Filipinas model for our youth teams, otherwise, what’s the point of starting our own grassroots programs?