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PH football community chips in to address SEA Games concerns

MANILA – The Philippine football community is chipping in to address some of the concerns hounding the competition in the ongoing Southeast Asian Games.

Philippine Football Federation (PFF) president Nonong Araneta said well-meaning individuals and private companies have stepped in to help the country’s hosting of the Games’ most popular event that has been buffeted by issues, ranging from transportation to food to accommodations.

Speaking at the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at Amelie Hotel on Tuesday, the country’s top football official revealed that Southridge School in Alabang has offered its pitch as one of the practice venues while Vallacar Transit, which owns the Ceres Bus line, has provided 18 of its newest buses that will 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.

“We have been augmenting what is necessary,” Araneta said in reaction to the complaints from participating teams.

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 (Phisgoc) is in charge with 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 San Miguel Corp., Braska Restaurant, Amelie Hotel, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor).

“The PFF has been there to backstop us every time we have concerns so we have not encountered problems,” Palami said.

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." (PR)

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