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New football boss puts premium on grassroots

Photograph Courtesy of PFF/fb

John Anthony Gutierrez will focus on youth development following his election as president of the Philippine Football Federation last Saturday.

The 46-year-old Gutierrez said he will work hard to give young players the best training program and best facilities that will enable them to raise their level of play in the international arena.

Gutierrez, the secretary general of the Bukidnon Football Association and Pachanga Diliman FC owner, was formally assumed the football presidency following the PFF Extraordinary Council and Election at The Bellevue Manila Hotel in Muntinlupa City.

He succeeded Mariano “Nonong” Araneta, who led the federation to greater heights in his 13-year leadership.

“I want to give our youth the same training opportunities and exposure as other countries who are good at football. We have the talent here but, unfortunately, we don’t have the right program and that’s the gap I want to fill,” Gutierrez said.

“I want our kids to grow up to be as exposed and as good as development as other countries. Sending kids or teams overseas is a temporary plan if we want to win now. But the main purpose is to be able to provide them with the same kind of training here in our country.”

Gutierrez’s vision will be easily realized after the Philippines was picked by the International Football Federation to be the recipient of the FIFA Football for School program, where the sports will be taught to teachers as part of the school curriculum.

Gutierrez admitted he will have to step up after the PFF saw significant progress under Araneta’s term and he welcomes the former football chief’s advice to help improve the sport in the country.

“Sir Nonong’s guidance will always be welcome. You would have to be delusional to think you won’t need him. I will appreciate the advice of Sir Nonong when he gives it,” Gutierrez said, referring to the 69-year-old Araneta who remains as ASEAN Football Federation vice president and FIFA Council member.

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