Azkals partner with SM MOA for grassroots development

Posted at 01/04/2014 8:37 PM | Updated as of 01/04/2014 8:37 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine Azkals has partnered with SM Mall of Asia (SM MOA) on a mission to create future Azkals through an elite football program for kids aged 6-12.

As part of the Azkals “A Project”, the program aims to create world-class players through training techniques and methodology used by foreign club teams.

To be held at the SM MOA grounds during weekends starting January 11, the elite football program boasts of a highly technical and progressive curriculum to be executed by Total Football, the Japan-based training group led by Coach Leigh Manson.

With 20 years of experience in football, Manson has played and coached in several professional teams in Europe, USA, and Japan, having worked as National Development Coach for the Scottish Football Association.

Training around 15,000 kids each year for seven years now, the group is also in charge of recruitment from all over Japan for Nike FC U18 squad. The Total Football Academy in Japan provides individual training for kids aged 4-18, with eight locations around Japan, training 500 players each week. They are also tapped by Pocari Sweat Sports Clinic in Japan, training 5,000 ladies and girls for U12 and above, for the past 2 years. The group has close ties with the academies of Manchester UTD, Barcelona FC, Arsenal FC, Celtic FC, Valencia FC as well as the Dutch, English and Scottish football associations.

Using a software on football presently used by European and American national and professional club teams like Liverpool and Manchester United, Total Football School said it will design and offer training sessions for the individualized needs of participants, tracking their progress, and ensuring specific skills and techniques in football are mastered before they move up to a higher level.

The program will set up a modular artificial grass pitch inside the SM MOA, increasing exposure of mainstream football in the high-traffic venue.

“We have started the Azkals 'A Project', a developmental program of the Philippine Azkals, as part of our goal to make an even bigger impact in the Asian Football scene,” said Dan Palami, team manager and prime mover of the Philippine Men’s Senior National team, the Philippine Azkals.

“We want to start when the kids are still young. Hopefully, if this exercise is successful, we can have more homegrown players in the Senior Men’s National Team in the future,” Dan Palami adds.

To make the program available to as many kids as possible, a scholarship program will also be offered based on merit and financial capacity of a player. “We really want to offer this to children from marginalized communities who will have the strong and continued motivation to work with us on this project. We are grateful to SM MOA for providing the venue for this ambitious project. With the support of the private sector, we want to train 200 scholars using this revolutionary system.”

The scholarship program and football school, run by Total Football, will be held at SM MOA every Saturdays and Sundays of 2014 starting on January 11 from 10am to 10pm. During the summer months, weekday sessions will be made available for a more intensive football program.

Diagnostic training sessions for school or club teams, mini-games, tournaments, corporate cups, etc. can also be organized by Total Football at SM MOA football training grounds, upon request.