The Philippines has the potential to be the Brazil of South East Asian football if only they could rid themselves of basketball, according to coach John Burridge who has just won the league with Manila-based Global FC.
“The standard of football there is excellent,” said Burridge, a former keeper coach at both UAE clubs Al Ain and Al Wasl, who lives in Muscat, Oman. “They would be No. 1 in South East Asia if only they could rid themselves of basketball,” added the 64-year-old Englishman.
“At the moment all the sponsorship, support and media attention goes to basketball whereas all their neighbouring countries are focused on football.
“The quicker they realise that nobody cares about basketball outside of America and the Philippines, the better.
“They are so good with players [of mixed heritage] from all over the world, they would even give the UAE a run for their money, but the Philippines Football Federation (PFF) is not strong enough and the government there doesn’t give football enough support.
“Football is not even secondary there, boxing is, nobody knows who Diego Maradona is, they keep thinking I mean Madonna.
“If you go into the provinces it’s like Brazil, kids are playing with a homemade basketball net in a tree, can you imagine if they had been brainwashed with football instead of basketball? They would be unbeatable.
“It’s very similar to Brazil, the poverty and the determination, except in Philippines basketball is the religion.
“The trouble is if they were to win the basketball world cup nobody would care, but can you imagine the publicity they would get if they made the Last 32 of the football World Cup?
“They have the talent and mentality to do that but the brainwashing isn’t there, nor the sponsorship, TV money, or the PFF, what a waste. Unless they change that they will be stuck forever.”
The former Aston Villa and Manchester City keeper — who spotted Oman’s Ali Al Habsi and India’s Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and was instrumental in taking them to play in Europe — led Global to their third Philippines league title last week and will now lead them into their second AFC Cup campaign.
Can they become the first Filipino side to qualify for the second round of the AFC Cup? “If they keep me as coach and follow my plans regarding new players and preparation, yes. If not, no.
“At the moment, all the attention is on the national team ahead of Philippines hosting the Suzuki Cup. [Global chairman Dan Palami is also heavily involved in the national team’s management] but we need to start preparing for next season now because the other teams Ceres and Loyola will be playing catch-up.”
Via: Gulf News