There should be no doubting the remarkable contributions of Philippine Football Federation president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta towards the development of the sport in the country.
But when asked what kind of legacy he wants to leave behind when his term ends, the amiable executive kept it simple: he wants to leave the federation as stable as it can be.
“I want to leave an organization that is stable, with the structure working,” said Araneta in the Tiebreaker Vodcasts’ The Crossover pod, presented by SMART and hosted by veteran journalist Cedelf Tupas, Tuesday.
“Of course, we have to do a lot of things for the organization. We have to change a lot on the structure that will really work for football — it is going to be working for football, not work for politics,” he added.
Araneta is now in his third and final term as the PFF’s chief executive. He was re-elected last November 2019, where he bested Negros Occidental Football Association president Ricky Yanson, 23-12.
Among his plans in his new term is the hosting of age-group tournaments, for which the PFF suffered past criticism since it lacked any programs. But thanks to the backing of Qatar Airways, the federation now has the means to host more grassroots efforts.
The wheels for the youth leagues were all set to roll until the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic wreaked havoc and stalled not just football, but all sports in the country. But ever-optimistic, Araneta said that it will still go on once everything normalizes.
“Meron naman tayong Under-15 noon eh, pero now ang sabi ko nga, because of the sponsorship of Qatar Airways for the PFL, now we have money to start Under-17 and Under-13,” the FIFA Executive Council member said.
“We want to start the youth leagues, Under-13, Under-15, Under-17, so all these leagues are, at the moment, postponed. It should have been the catalyst to put up a youth academy or a pool of national team players in the youth. Nevertheless, it is just a setback at the moment. Pero as soon as we are allowed to start, we will start again,” he added.
“We are just talking about how many months, at most one year. It won’t stop us from implementing these youth leagues and the women’s tournament. It was just postponed; it will still be on. Maybe not now, but in the future. The plans are there.”
Apart from the youth leagues, the federation also has plans to construct its own headquarters — or the National Training Centre — in Carmona, Cavite. For Araneta, “it will be something football can be proud of”.
“I hope that our headquarters… I want to finish that. Hopefully, it will be finished by next year,” he said. “It will be something football can be proud of. Because I think that we will be the only organization that will have our own headquarters and dormitories that athletes can use.
“Even other sports can use our facilities in the future. It is incorporation among sporting associations,” added Araneta, who took over the PFF’s presidency back in 2011 after serving as the body’s interim prexy for almost a year.
Still, the most important of them all, said the Araneta, is leaving a sustainable structure for the federation “The most important is the structure that is proactive, that caters to football and to football development,” he said.
“I hope that when I leave football as president, the structure is well-placed, it is running well, and anyone that will be president will just have to not try hard to run the organization. There are a lot of people that are capable to run the organization, but the most important thing is the system, the structure.”