Fair Play: Push FAs to match fans' fund-campaign

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's March 12 edition)
JUST recently, a group of fans started the Small Change, Big Change online campaign, a fund-raising campaign for the Philippine men’s national team.

Of course, skeptics will ask--what? The over-hyped and much-marketed Azkals need money? Don’t they have TV shows for that or that multi-million peso deal with ABS CBN?

To be honest, the Azkals are bleeding money and don’t get much in return—just check the latest barely-attended friendly in Manila. And those TV spots the individual players get? Well, it goes to them, not the team.

Back in the AFC Challenge Cup, one official said that the TV deal they had with ABS-CBN would barely cover their airline tickets for the circuitous route they took to the tournament.

So yep, the team do need financial help, and it sure would be nice to expect the Philippine Football Federation to foot all the bill, but that would mean less money for the youth national teams. So this Small Change, Big Change campaign is music to the team management’s ears.

Well, I just hope that it gets expanded nationwide because as it is, it’s limited to Manila for now. I think this idea was inspired by the Cebu Football Association, when it launched a donation campaign for the team during its friendly against Malaysia last year.

So, short of waiting for the campaign to reach fans outside of Manila, what can we do? For starters, I hope the PFF will push the FAs to match what-ever funds is raised by the fans. Let’s be honest, some of the biggest beneficiaries of the Azkals rise to prominence are the FAs and the FA presidents.

Not only do they get more players in their respective associations, they got a whole lot of freebies every time there’s a congress or an Azkal game is in town. With 34 regular members and four associate members, at P20,000 per FA, that’s more than P700,000 more, right?

Why P20,000? Well, it’s just a magic number I picked because when a former president got in trouble once, he doled out P20,000 to each FA president for “communication allowance.”

There are no major tournaments for the Azkals this year, and if they manage to go deep in the Fifa World Cup qualifiers, interest in the sport could be at an all-time high. So a lot of “small change” can help in a big way.

CRAZY COINCIDENCE. Last year, I wrote in my “look-back piece for 2015” that Stephen Schrock would patch things up with coach Thomas Dooley and return to the Azkals. Well, just yesterday, it was reported that Schrocky has indeed patched things up with the coach and wants to return.



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