Popularizing Football in the Philippines

It’s World Cup season again, and most of the world is again having Soccer fever. But, just as Dave Letterman said in his monologue last night, “we don’t care”. He was saying it for Americans, but it also oh-so-true for Filipinos.

‘Mandating Schools to Play Soccer’
The problem I think with Soccer, is that the only way to appreciate the game, is to play it. If you haven’t played it, its hard for you to identify with almost two dozen men running up and down a large field and scoring only once per hour. You wouldn’t be appreciate how hard it is to control that damn ball with your feet.

There are, however, some really gifted individuals out there with terrific coordination, who can handle a soccer ball just as easily as Jimmy Alapag dribbles the basketball. Seeing that out on the field gives you a better appreciation of the game.

So the only way to popularize Soccer in the Philippines, is to get more people to play it. The best way to do this, is to mandate into law that all schools in the country incorporate it into their Physical Education curriculum.

But this is tricky politically, because people would ask questions like why Soccer? Why not the national sport “Arnis” instead? So what what if the rest of the world plays it, it doesn’t mean we have to also, at least not to most Filipinos … yet.

‘Indoor Soccer’
However, even if you are able to pass into law the requirement to incorporate Soccer into all schools in the Philippines, you have another big problem: Space.

There are very few schools out there that has the space to be able to put an entire Soccer field into their campus. And they’re usually the richer ones. The poorer schools usually have much smaller spaces on their campuses, and no place for an entire soccer field.

And you want to push the games to the poorer schools (never mind the elitist schools) mainly because they comprise the bulk of the schools in the country. The more the poorer schools play it, the more people will play and appreciate the sport.

But this is not an insurmountable problem, because there are a couple of indoor forms of soccer the sport to be played in a much shorter or smaller field. There is “Indoor Soccer” (six a side), or “Futsal” (FIFA-approved five a side).

I’ve seen in some countries where they play Soccer inside a basketball court, simply by putting smaller goalposts right under the basketball rings on either side of the court. Of course, the game will be a bit different. The playing surface is different, the number of players are less, and the game much faster. But I think this is better than none. Somehow, despite the differences, it will be easier for people to appreciate Soccer by playing a shorter form, then NOT playing it at all.

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One thought on “Popularizing Football in the Philippines

  1. The problem is not the kind of sport. We Filipinos can appreciate different sports. Maybe the problem is the government, the political system, or the politicians. Let’s just hope that the children of the policiticians start loving sports & ask their big fish parents to formulate laws to mainstream the other sports like soccer & raise funds. Just a thought.

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