Never putting on an Azkal jersey is by no means the end of one’s dream to represent the country on the pitch. With the advent of the World Football Fives, also known as the Football Five’s World Championships (F5WC), the ordinary Filipino need just be extraordinary on the field to earn the right to don the Philippine colors on the international stage.
The F5WC is a global initiative that aims to bring together countries to celebrate the beautiful game through a five-a-side amateur football tournament involving 48 participating countries—from Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, and the Americas—wherein each country involved hosts a national qualifying tournament to find their best amateur football team, which will then be sent to the 2015 F5WC World Finals in Dubai slated on April 15, 2015. This year’s tournament is the second of an initial three-year deal between F5WC and the Dubai Sports Council.
The Philippine leg of the 2015 F5WC qualifiers will take place from January to March 2015 with licensed partners Football Manila.
Joga Bonito in Manila
Football Manila is an organization that promotes the sport through weekly scrimmages, coaching sessions for both kids and adults, amateur leagues and corporate tournaments. It was founded in 2011 by Filipino-British Oliver Lewis, and run by core team members Australian Brent Steenbergen, and locally-born Bernard Piguing as a means of making football a hand within reach to all Filipinos regardless of age, gender, and socioeconomic class.
“Football is growing in the Philippines but personally, what I want to see is more people that don’t have access to this—because you’ve got to pay for kits, rent for the fields, and transportation to get to these places—to actually play the sport, and we at Football Manila have been at the forefront of bringing these prices down,” shared Lewis.
Among its unique initiatives involve coaching adults from anywhere between 20 to 35 years old who have seen the game being played on a high level on TV, but have no experience whatsoever yet want to learn how to play. Meanwhile, they have further reduced their prices to coach young kids at 50 pesos per child for 2 hours of training. In the long run, they envision their grassroots programs to bear fruit on the amateur and professional levels, translating into talented football players.
Moving forward, they look to create their own version of the F5WC that would expand beyond Manila, and potentially tie up with football institutions abroad with similar aspirations to put together an international event for amateur footballers.
F5WC Philippine Qualifiers
The World Football Fives is open to any amateur five-a-side football team composed of males, 16 years old and above, who are holders of a valid passport. The event is strictly for non-professional football players.
All participants must be a resident of the country they are representing, with at least three out of the maximum seven players in the lineup having Filipino citizenship. There are no restrictions on nationality as long as the minimum requirement for the three players is met.
Individuals may form multiple teams but in the event that matches overlap, the said player is required to represent only one team. Should the team be eliminated, they may re-enter through another qualifier schedule by fulfilling all necessary new team registration procedures.
In line with this, the Philippine qualifiers will be held primarily on weekends at various cities and provinces across the archipelago.
|Manila||January 31, February 7-8, 21-22, March 21-22|
|Baguio||February 28-March 1|
|Cagayan de Oro||March 15|
The top teams from their respective qualifiers will advance to the country finals which will culminate in Manila on March 28 to 29. As for the overall winner of the tournament, the team will receive seven return flights to Dubai, 5-star hotel accommodation inclusive of all meals and transportation, home and away national kits, tracksuits, training tops, kit bags, and F5WC welcome packs.
Registration fee for the Philippine qualifiers is at 3,500 pesos per team. To register, visit the official website at www.f5wc.com or email [email protected]. Check the F5WC Philippines official Facebook page for venue updates.
For more information on the World Football Fives, visit their official website at www.f5wc.com and follow F5WC on Facebook (Facebook.com/theworldfootballfives) and Twitter (@football5wc).
All photos courtesy of Football Manila and F5WC