By Olmin Leyba
MANILA, Philippines - A training center with an international-sized artificial turf and other facilities for the Philippine Azkals and other national football teams will rise in Carmona, Cavite next year.
According to the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) general secretary Edwin Gastanes, the facility will be constructed under the $500,000 Goal Project 3 of the International Football Federation (Fifa).
“We just signed a lease agreement for two hectares there and we’ll have our Goal Project 3 (with a) full-sized artificial turf in Carmona. Likewise, Fifa has already initiated international bidding on the construction of the said training pitch of the PFF,” Gastanes told The STAR.
To be called the “National Teams Training Center,” the said facility will allow the Azkals, Malditas and other age group squads unlimited access and control while they are holding camps. Under the current set up, Pinoy booters train in various private fields.
“Hopefully, before the end of the second half of next year, we’ll have an artificial turf in Carmona with dressing rooms for all our national team aspirants and pool,” said Gastanes.
The Carmona project follows a similar training pitch and facility the Fifa has constructed in Bukidnon under the Goal 4 Project.
The PFF and the Fifa had also initially considered building an artificial turf at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium but talks with the stadium’s administrator, the Philippine Sports Commission, fell apart over issues of control of the government-owned site. Eventually, the PSC decided to convert Rizal’s grass field into artificial turf on its own.
Gastanes said the new-look Rizal will remain as the “home venue” for the Azkals and other national teams. In fact, the PFF is looking at Rizal as the site for the third edition of the Philippine Peace Cup this September.
“Rizal Memorial is a brand-new artificial turf now and hopefully it will be certified as a Fifa two-star artificial turf,” he said.