In December 2009, Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president at the time, arrived in Manila and inaugurated the Philippine Football Federation’s House of Football in Oranbo, Pasig. It was the first real headquarters of local football’s governing body after holding a dilapidated office at PhilSports Complex with its smelly toilets and whatnot.
A most eventful decade ensued in that time inside that House of Football, most notably it was where the seeds of the ousting of a former federation president were sown, and the plotting of the ascent of the Azkals. Like peaks and valleys, Philippine football rose and, well, slid back down. Not, however, to the pre-2001 levels as the Azkals remain a force to reckon. There is a professional domestic league in play, although it has stopped much like everything else due to the pandemic. Much though remains to be fixed.
Just as what the House of Football meant to the past decade, the new PFF headquarters in Carmona town, Cavite, will be to the new decade. Maybe a launchpad to higher levels of success.
Current PFF president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta, voted its president in November 2010 and is in his third term, is heading into the next decade holding on to hope.
Hope comes in the form of the Philippines Football League that has its own set of challenges that has him very much concerned.
“We are lucky that Qatar Airways has honored its commitment in this difficult time,” he added. “They are sponsors of a lot of teams and the next World Cup, and they are coming to us. It is up to us to make the league run.”
Teams, corporate sponsors, and television carriers dropping out as well as the ongoing pandemic has left much cause for concern.
“The IATF allowing the training for the clubs is very much a welcome development,” Araneta said, with a mixture of relief and happiness.
BRACING FOR THE NEW NORMAL
Never has resuming the games signified such hope as everyone looks for traction in what is called “the new normal.”
“There have been ups and downs but that is not going to stop us,” he added. “The aforementioned concerns will be dealt with, he promises.
Araneta has lost 34 pounds since the time he first took on the hot seat. “It’s also because a change in diet,” he explained. The Iloilo native looks older, but his passion for the game of football has not waned one iota.
We spoke one-on-one via Zoom and bared each other’s position about the state of the game. He said as much and took as much. The PFF president acknowledged that the game since 2010 has been one of mountains and valleys -- highs and lows, if you will. While he understands that life and its fruits are there in cycles, he wants to end his service with the game once more atop its perch.
In addition to the PFL, Araneta cannot wait for the youth competitions to continue. “These youth tournaments are the key,” he pointed out.
“They will help the national teams, club teams, schools, and the entire system. Having them,” he paused, “means every year these players have something to look forward.”
Site development plan for the PFF’s Carmona headquarters. Handout
Second floor plan for the PFF’s Carmona headquarters. Handout
Third floor plan for the PFF’s Carmona headquarters. Handout
Ground floor plan for the PFF’s Carmona headquarters. Handout
Fourth floor plan for the PFF’s Carmona headquarters. Handout
Roof deck plan for the PFF’s Carmona headquarters. Handout
Exterior perspective at the PFF’s Carmona headquarters. Handout
Day scene perspective at the PFF’s Carmona headquarters. Handout
Good things come in threes, and the last one Araneta cannot wait for to happen. It is that new headquarters in Carmona. The pitches are already there; the headquarters needs to be finished.
The artificial pitch with its lights costs $1.1 million. The land as well as the costs for building the six-story headquarters with its dormitories, offices, seminar rooms and conference hall, cafeteria, and a clinic are pegged to be worth $5.9 million, with the entire funding coursed through FIFA.
“This was designed and is going to be built with full expansion in mind,” underscored Araneta. “When it is finally fixed, we will have a mini-stadium that will seat anywhere from (2,000) to 3,000 people. It will be a world-class facility Saturdays in Carmona. We plan to start construction by this October and move in by December of 2021.”
The distance between the current PFF offices in Oranbo, Pasig to the newer facility Carmona is 36.1 kilometers. Ideally through the South Luzon Expressway, it’s just a 45-minute drive.
The significance and even the distance between the two Houses of Football are not lost on Araneta. Peaks and valleys aside, he is excited. “We will make sure it will get better . . . One House has served its purpose,” he says. “The new one will take us to the next level.”
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