The Philippine football team preparing for the 26th Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia got a big boost Tuesday after Suzuki Philippines expressed its willingness to support the team.
With the success of the Azkals, the PH U-23 squad is determined to win its first-ever medal in the Men’s football competition slated in Jakarta and Palembang.
With three months to go before the Games, Suzuki president Satoshi Uchida said they will coordinate with the Philippine Football Federation for a possible sponsorship deal with the Under-23 squad lacking the resources its senior counterpart – the Azkals – enjoy in abundance.
“We’re considering every ways to help the team. We will talk to the PFF to discuss possible sponsorships for the team,” said Uchida, 52, in Tuesday’s press launching of the Hometown Heroes featuring five Azkals members.
Azkals co-team captain Chieffy Caligdong, Ian Araneta, Yannick Tuason, Roel Gener and Paolo Pascual were tapped to be the endorsers for the Suzuki motorcycles in a campaign that hopes to highlight the city roots of the homegrown players.
Uchida declined to divulge financial help the company is willing to extend to the SEAG team, but assured they are willing to back the team all the way to the SEA Games.
Suzuki is no longer stranger in helping football.
A couple of months ago, it spent more than P3 million for the staging of the 1st PFF Under-23 national championship, a tournament from which the current pool for the SEAG team was picked.
PFF president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta expressed elation on the Suzuki’s pledge.
“We’re very happy about it,” Araneta said in a separate interview. “It shows that the company has faith in football.”
Meanwhile, Araneta said the Azkals are bothered by the controversial rape allegation on four members of the team, but assured that the squad remains focused on their preparation for their second round meeting with Kuwait in the World Cup qualifiers.
“They are affected but not demoralized,” Araneta said.
Source: By FRANCIS SANTIAGO (Manila Bulletin)