Over a hundred years ago, the Philippines
were ceded by Spain to the USA. American sports such as basketball consequently gained the upper hand, at the expense of the once popular game of football. However, since local youngsters, both boys and girls, rediscovered the delights of football, the tide has begun to turn. But there is still a long way to go before football can once again become the country's leading sport. The nation's most notable successes happened some time ago (semi-final qualification in the 1991 South East Asian Games Football Tournament). The national association is, however, trying to promote young talent by means of grassroots nationwide programmes in an effort to raise football standards to a reasonable level after a spate of poor results. Training programmes in all major areas have also been set up, based on FIFA courses such as Futuro. In 2003, the top Philippine striker, Alfredo Gonzalez, had signed a contract for a professional Vietnamese club - this was the first international transfer to hit the headlines in the country for years. The association is hoping this will serve as an inspiration for other players.