PFF's Stewart Hall wants more training exposure for homegrown players
Having evaluated the potential of young football talent in the country, Philippine Football Federation technical director and grassroots sports development head Stewart Hall wants to give budding local booters opportunities to flourish before looking overseas for reinforcements.
“What we did with the Under-16 and Under-19s is we said that let’s g give the local boys a chance first. They haven’t had football in the last two years. Let give them exposure, assess what we have and then bring in from the outside what we feel we need,” said Hall, who was tapped by the PFF in December 2021 to oversee its grassroots program.
The British coach handled the Philippines Under-16 squad that saw action in the AFF Under-16 held from July 31 to Aug. 12 in the neighboring Indonesian cities of Sleman and Bantul in Central Java.
Bracketed in Group A, the Filipino footballers beat Singapore 2-1 but lost to Indonesia and Vietnam by scores of 0-2 and 0-5, respectively, to exit the tournament early.
“More than our rivals, we had more challenges playing on a grass pitch because we had been training before the tournament on artificial turf. Our boys had difficulty adjusting to it,” noted Hall, who conducted his training camp and tryouts at the PFF national training center in Carmona, Cavite.
He also rued the fact that some of the best players his coaching staff identified during their four-week scouting trip in Davao, Iloilo, Cebu and Luzon were unable to join the team because they had no passports.
Nonetheless, Hall said that he and his coaching staff were pleased with the promising homegrown talent available and would give them the chance to hone them with further intensive training in establishing better team chemistry.
“With the Under-19s we said let’s make it 75 to 80 percent for our local players while the Under-16s let’s make it 90 percent,” disclosed Hall of his plans for both age groups.
“There are a lot of players outside in Europe and America who want to come over and play for the Philippines. But we want to give priority to our local boys. We will strengthen both squads by bringing in two or three handpicked players from outside.
“These (outside) players should have a strong football background, very good pedigree. But we will still try to keep the balance in favor of the locals.”
Hall said he would maintain this philosophy in forming the PH Under-19 squad that will vie in the AFC U-20 Asian Cup qualifiers set from Sept. 10 to 18 across the continent.
The Filipino footballers are bracketed in Group G with two-time champion Thailand, host Oman and Afghanistan, with the 10 group topnotchers and five best runners-up across the groupings booking tickets to the AFC U-20 Asian Cup scheduled March 1 to 18, 2023 in Uzbekistan.
Halls charges kick off their campaign against the hosts in the Omani capital of Muscat on Sept. 14, face the Thais two days later before winding up their group stint against the Afghanis on Sept. 18.
While the Azkals, the national men’s team, are ranked among Southeast Asia’s heavyweights, Hall pointed out the immense gap of the Philippine youth squads have with their upper tier regional counterparts.
“I’ve been with the Under-23s, Under-19s and Under-16s, and in terms of development there is a massive gap between the top 4 – Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and even Malaysia – with the rest of their regional rivals,” the coach pointed out.
“Malaysia has won the AFF Under-16 and Under-19 so there are lot of good things going on there with its youth development through their pro league and professional teams. We are miles behind the top 4 but we’re in touch with everybody else.
“When we play Laos, it is 50-50 (of the chance of winning), Myanmar the same. Brunei and Singapore we can beat, but we need to become the best with the rest of the bunch before we can be can be competitive against Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia.”
“This is where we are now, but we have to do it in stages before we can challenge the top 4,” added the English tactician, who has a five-year contract with the PFF and hopes that his efforts will bear fruit once it is over.news.abs-cbn.com/sports/09/01/22/pff-director-wants-to-see-homegrown-players-flourish?fbclid=IwAR3oLrPKgyxnCz4c_sGs-jmD0Rh2YafuGUb49b9xNYo2_KenjAXtywE__9U
It is nice to see a technical director who knows what he is doing. I am in favor of mostly using local players for our national youth teams to help our locals gain experience and grow but at the senior level I prefer a more competitive environment where the best players play.
FIFA created the age group teams precisely to develop players and prepare them for international competition so I am glad to see Stewart prioritizing development at the younger age groups.
I would however be in favor of adding stronger players from abroad starting at the U23 level because of how important Philippine sports places on the SEA Games.