The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) welcomed top football dignitaries from all over Asia and across the world as it hosted the 60th Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Anniversary and Annual Awards Nigh yesterday, November 30, at the Makati Shangri-la Hotel.
The AFC recognizes the City of Manila as its home city, where representatives from Afghanistan, Burma (now Myanmar), Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea Republic, Pakistan, the Philippines, Taiwan (Chinese Taipei), Singapore, and Vietnam congregated together and founded the AFC on May 8, 1954.
Leading the night’s luminaries was Federacion International de Football Assossation (FIFA) President Joseph S. Blatter, who was elated to emphasize that Qatar will be home to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. This will be the first time that the world’s most anticipated sporting event will seek action in the Middle East, and the second time for the event to take place in Asia since the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea Republic and Japan.
“Everywhere, football is being played. The emotions are what connect people. Football is not just for the good of the game. It is also for the welfare of the population,” he said.
Also gracing the event was Qatar Football Association (QFA) General Secretary Al Mohannadi Saoud, who was pleased to announce the rapid development of football in Qatar in preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The PFF, along with the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and the Tajikistan Football Federation (TFF), were awarded the President Recognition Award for Grassroots Football. This award recognizes Member Associations that have demonstrated outstanding developments in grassroots structure,technical programs, social responsibility, and exchange programs with other member associations, national associations, schools and football clubs.
“We are very happy and proud to have received this award. The grassroots program of our young players is central to the programs of PFF in order for us to discover and develop players who will someday represent the country, ” said PFF President Mariano “Nonong” Araneta.
As part of its thrust to use football as an instrument to uplift areas devastated by Typhoon Haiyan, the AFC also paid tribute to the benefactors who donated a parcel of land in Palo, Leyte, where the AFC, in partnership with Gawad Kalinga, erected the AFC Village, a housing project which is now a home to hundreds of displaced familoies in Leyte. At the center of this site is a football field that hopes to enrich the lives of the residents of this community through football.
Leading the awardees for the AFC’s diamond jubilee was Nassir Al Shamrani of the Kingdom of Soudi Arabi (KSA), who was named AFC Player of the year. The 31 year-old forward for Saudi-based club Al-Hilal scored 10 goals in Al Hilal’s 1st runner up finish in this year’s AFC Champion’s League. Other nominees to the award were Ismail Ahmed of the United Arab Emirates and Khalfan Ibrahim from Qatar.
“This award does not belong only to me, but also to my teammates and team managers. They inspired me to work very hard in training, and they put me in the position to win this award. I knew that we would go to the finals.”
Al Shamrani is the 4th player from Saudi Arabia to win this award since 1994.
Winning the AFC Women’s Player of the Year was Katrina Lee Gorry from Australia. Named as the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2014’s second best player, 22 year-old Gorry bested 2-time awardee Aya Miyama, and Nahomi Kawasumi, both from Japan.
“This is so overwhleming, especially since I was up against stiff competition. I hope this will serve as an inspiration to boost women’s football in Australia,” she said.
The complete list of awardees can be viewed at www.the-afc.com.