In the hopes of focusing on grassroots football and honing future potential Azkals players in the process, the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) held tryouts for more than 1,000 junior football players from all over the country in order to find 22 talented young men to bring to the United Kingdom for a three-week football camp. This is in line with the sports program's aim to reach the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in 2019 and eventually the 2024 Olympics.
This was the story followed in the sports documentary Little Azkals: Pursuit of a World Cup Dream which will be shown October 25 and 26 exclusively at select SM Cinemas nationwide. Directed by Baby Ruth Villarama, the film takes us through the kids' experience from the tryouts, traveling to England for the first time, and getting the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to train at the UK's premiere sports University of Leicester. Also interesting was to hear how the children's parents felt about the whole process and how they prepared their sons to travel abroad without them.
With the help of the British Council, the promising young men, all coming from diverse backgrounds and provinces all over the country, traveled earlier this year with their Filipino coaches to Loughborough University in Leicestershire, United Kingdom for training. Before they left, British Ambassador Asif Ahmad invited the young team to his residence in Makati city where they also got to meet and be inspired by senior Azkals players Phil Younghusband and Chieffy Caligdong. According to Phil, the future of Philippine football is largely dependent on how well the local sports programs can hone the future generations of the sport and that he can see that there are young players with a lot of potential if just given the right opportunities.
In the UK, the boys also got to meet senior Azkal Rob Gier who lived one hour away from where they were staying in Loughborough and came to support and inspire the Philippine youth football team. The documentary also follows the boys through training camp, adjusting to British weather, and also their highs and lows while playing against two different English teams and proved that even as a young team, they have the capacity to compete already on an international level.
If anything else, watching this documentary will give Pinoy football fans a sneak peek into the lives of these homegrown future football superstars. Little Azkals will have a special screenings on October 25-26, Saturday and Sunday only at the SM Mall of Asia, SM Megamall, SM Southmall, SM Sta. Mesa, SM Fairview, SM Manila, SM Marikina, SM Bacoor, SM Iloilo, SM Cebu, SM North Edsa, SM Davao, SM Bacolod and SM Cagayan de Oro.
Screenshot photo credit to: Voyage Studios