PH Under-11 squad gets quality football training in UK
LOUGHBOROUGH, EAST MIDLANDS -- The Under-11 Philippine national football team were in the United Kingdom recently for a special three-week training camp.
The squad of 22 boys, who were based in Loughborough University in the East Midlands, was selected from around 25,000 hopefuls across the Philippines.
They practiced skills and drills on full-size pitches, studied theory and new techniques, and got to test themselves against local opponents.
"This trip is very important for us, for the exposure," explained PH Under-11 Head Coach Eliezer Fabroada.
"Meron tayong British coaches na tumutulang sa atin for that training and this is a very nice, good experience for the kids.
"Na check talaga namin kung ano pa pwede improve and yung weakness and strengths nila," Fabroada added.
Azkal defender Rob Gier was also on hand to assist during some of the squad's training sessions.
During their stay, the players also visited the Philippine Embassy in London before watching England's World Cup Qualifying victory over Moldova at Wembley Stadium.
"Masaya kasi first time ko na makita na players from other countries," commented Vin Joel Dela Cruz, a player from NCR, Manduluyong.
The players enjoyed the trip and found the lessons useful.
Central midfielder Jacob Pedernal said: "It's a great experience. We get to learn each other's skills. We get to know about other people and know what other cultures from other countries are teaching them."
The training camp was funded and organized by the British Council, and run in partnership with the Philippine Football Federation and Loughborough University.
The aim for this team is to qualify for the Under-17 World Cup in 2019, but they need help.
"To continue this project, and for this to be really successful we need counterpart funds," explained Alec Ladanga, who is the British Council's Programme and Partnership Development Manager.
"The British Council would need partners and good Samaritans to make this thing possible. I really do believe, seeing these kids compete with other British clubs, they can do it.
"In my time, my generation, there was still that feeling of awe or intimidation when you compete with a Caucasian or westerner, but with these kids, no," Ladanga added.
The project is the first of its kind for the Philippines and the hope is for these pups to eventually grow into fully fledged Azkals.