Dan Palami, the team manager of the Philippines national team, said that the Azkals Development Team (ADT) programme is the sure way forward to bring the young players and their transition to the full senior side.
Palami said that the idea of forming the ADT came about at the recent SEA Games which the Philippines hosted where he felt that there was a gap between the Philippines players against those from the region.
“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 Palami.
“That’s why we wanted to explore the possibility of having a younger group of players, already being exposed to the professional club environment.”
Palami added that the average age players in the ADT will be around 19 to 20 years old, with the youngest prospect having just turned 17 and the oldest being 25.
“We’re joining the PFL, but we are not there to really win trophies. 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,” added Palami.
The team will be exposed to the same set-up as the Philippines national side with Scott Cooper as the head coach.
“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. “There are not that many academies and so we needed to find a way that we could identify players and try to develop them.”