Friday, June 21, 2013

Fair Play: Conversations with Coach Weiss

I HATE the term full-bloodied. I hate it when they use that,” Coach Michael Weiss told me during a dinner at Ricky Dakay’s house last Tuesday.

Weiss was in Cebu to donate some 250 balls to 11 football clubs as part of his prize as one of the finalists for the German Football Ambassador award.

I had the flu so I missed the press con but I managed to join him for dinner, where we got to talk.  That was when he raised his dislike for the term, which often comes up in the questions he has to face when it comes to team selection.
“Whenever I hear that term, I think of my daughters. I’m German, my wife is Japanese, what does that make of them?” he said. “That term is an insult.

That topic came up when I brought up some questions on the composition of the national team and Weiss was, to put it bluntly, not impressed of those who get named to the pool.

Some don’t even show up, some don’t have the right attitude and some just don’t have it.  But he does recognize the need for a central defender and pointed out Aman Aguinaldo as one player to look out for.

And one other promising thing for Philippine football?

The arrival of German football expert Thomas Roy who will look over the grassroots development of the country.

“This is a program whose results you won’t feel in two or three years,” said Weiss of the four-year, $1 million program.

The ultimate goal?

To have a national team that will be bannered by talents who learned their football here--plus a couple or more really excellent players based abroad.

He said it’s one of those things he and PFF technical director Aries Caslib, who is also the former national team coach, talk about.  During the PFF Board of Governors meeting in Cebu in 2011, Caslib said the top young Pinoy players are comparable to top players from other countries but the gap starts and widens at 14 years old because of the different football climate.

Then, Caslib said one way of addressing this gap is by sending our boys abroad and I believe they started this with the Little Azkals.

If Roy is successful, that might not be necessary.

“In the future, you--(and I like the way he said “you” instead of “I”) won’t have to rely on average players from Europe for the Azkals,” he said. “Just take those who are really good.”

As of now, Weiss said, those “average players” from Europe who see action in the second or third tier professional leagues are better than most of the local talents.

Perhaps they are, perhaps they aren’t. But two or three years down the road, that shouldn’t be the case, not only because of the entry of Roy but since 2011, the PFF has improved its talent identification program for the national youth teams.

Roy will go over the Center for Excellence programs of the PFF and having written about grassroots programs that will save Philippine football in 2000 that failed, only to be replaced by one that failed too in 2005, I really hope this one will be it.  The atmosphere is right for it.  A lot of people had so much hopes for the 2005 program, because it was supposed to win us our first Seag gold in 2015, but it fell after just a year.

You can consider this Weiss legacy for Philippine football because I don’t see him staying beyond his latest contract extension.  Getting in that prestigious list as football legends Jurgen Klinsmann and Otto Pfister, who like him, handled a youth team in Africa, means greener pastures will be calling him after his stint with the Philippines.

Love him or hate him, Weiss was the coach the Philippines needed after 2010 and he did take Philippine football to a new level.

HE SAID IT.  “It was a mistake to bring him and you can quote me on that.  Don’t put too much hope or pressure on a young man,” Weiss on why he didn’t field Mike Ott in the Hong Kong friendly, citing the young man’s lack of fitness for international matches.


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