The formation of the Azkals Developmental Team (ADT) had one clear mission for the management – growth over trophies.
This is the goal of the ADT, set to compete in the 2020 season of the Philippines Football League (PFL) with the management of the team main goal are the growth of the members and preparing them better in international tournaments like the 2021 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and beyond.
“We were looking at the other teams and we can see that most of their players are actually involved in the professional leagues, but at that age, most of our players are still in college,” said Azkals team manager Dan Palami, who also led the ADT management told ESPN5 after observing most teenager or younger players in the Philippines are still playing in the collegiate leagues unlike in overseas leagues with most young players are now playing in the professional ranks or spending their teenage years in the professional football academies.
“That’s why we wanted to explore the possibility of having a younger group of players, already being exposed to the professional club environment,” the long-time national football team official added.
The formation of the ADT and participation in the 2020 PFL season was sought after the U-22 team failed to advance into the semifinals of the 2019 SEA Games. In observing what things need to be done and correct, the ADT formation hopes to address those things and improve the performance of the players especially those that are part of the U-22 in the last SEA Games.
Most importantly, the growth of the players will be seen on their stint with the ADT.
“We’re joining the PFL, but we are not there to really win trophies,” Palami said in the same article. “We want to develop the players. Hopefully when they’re exposed to a more professional environment other than their schools they can move on to professional clubs.”
Members of the ADT team are some players of the U-22 team played in the 2019 SEA Games, which includes Jarvey Gayoso, Anthony Pinthus, Edison Suerti, Christian Rontini, Chima Uzoka, Troy Limbo and Mar Vincent Diano.
Also included are several collegiate standouts and recruits in Jerome Marzan, Marcel Ouano, Lance Ocampo, Kristoffer Reyes, Oliver Corbitt, Quincy Kammeraad, Kainoa Bailey and Sandro Reyes.
Included also are unattached players or free agents led by Curt Dizon, Dean Ebarle, Marvin Angeles, Kennedy Uzoka, Matthew Custodio, Jose Yared, and Fritz Brigoli.
U-22 coach Goran Milojevic set to coach the squad.
Azkals head coach Scott Cooper is happy about the formation of the ADT, especially the country doesn’t have enough professional football academies to prepare the next generation of players into their career in professional football and national team duties.
“I think this is the best idea we’ve had since I’ve been here because there aren’t any really professional club academies here,” Cooper said in the same ESPN5 article. “There are not that many academies and so we needed to find a way that we could identify players and try to develop them.”
Unlike other professional football academies, which their graduates are expected to play for their seniors’ team, Cooper said the ADT management will allow the players to play for any Philippine-based clubs or any clubs overseas after their stint with the ADT.
“[These are] players we feel that have got great potential, that can develop themselves, maybe push on to other teams here, like a Ceres or Kaya, or into the Thai League or J [Japan] League, and develop themselves in terms of a career,” Cooper explained.
“Once we feel that they’ve developed, that they’re ready to take the next step, that’s it,” Cooper added. “That’s the difference between us and a league team, a league team is going to try to keep their best players, we’re going to encourage them to move on to something bigger and better.”
The ADT is one of the clubs set to compete in the upcoming PFL season together with defending champion Ceres-Negros, Kaya Iloilo, Stallion Laguna, Global FC and Mendiola FC 1991.
Due to the Philippine government declaration the enhanced community quarantine will be extended until April 30th to control the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the opening of the 2020 PFL season expected to happen in late May instead of April 18th.