Private companies and well-meaning individuals are stepping up to help the country’s hosting of the Southeast Asian Games football tournaments.
Philippine Football Federation president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta said Southridge School in Alabang has offered its artificial pitch as one of the practice venues for the tournaments, while Vallacar Transit, which owns the Ceres Bus line, has provided 18 of its newest buses to transport teams to their matches.
Vallacar is headed by Leo Rey Yanson, who is also the owner of the country’s top football club, Ceres-Negros. Ceres buses were also used by organizers the last time the country hosted the tournament in 2005, following complaints with the vehicle being used by the teams.
The 18 buses are intended for the 11 men’s teams and six women’s squads with one spare bus in case of emergency. The vehicles are obviously an upgrade from the tourist buses that were used initially for the teams.
While the Ceres buses were only rolled out last Tuesday, after securing a permit from the LTFRB, the company already came to the rescue last Saturday when the PFF requested its help to transport the Indonesian team from the airport to its official hotel.
“We have been augmenting what is necessary,” Araneta said.
Araneta clarified that the PFF’s role is limited to the technical side of the tournament, which includes the conduct of the actual competition, while the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee is in charge of the organization of the games, ranging from the accommodations to the transportation.
“There are well-meaning individuals and companies that are willing to help us to make this SEA Games successful,” Araneta added. “We’re there not to criticize, but to help.”
Philippine football team manager Dan Palami said the Young Azkals have been quite fortunate that the PFF has been alert in addressing their needs.
“Of course, we empathize with the other teams,” said Palami, who was also at the forum backed by Pagcor, Amelie Hotel and San Miguel.
“The PFF has been there to backstop us every time we have concerns so we have not encountered problems,” added Palami.
The Young Azkals opened their campaign with a 1-1 draw with Cambodia last Monday night at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Araneta said the federation has also released funds to the women’s team, which had complained about the quantity and the quality of food in their hotel. “Even the parents of some of the players are helping out in making sure that we get enough food for the women’s team,” he said.
“We want to move on and focus on the competition,” said Araneta. “Right now, we just have to help each other and also support our athletes.”