FIFA builds Mindanao football center in Valencia City

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 17 Oct) – The International Football Federation (FIFA), the highest governing body of football around the world, is constructing a P21.7-million (US$500,000) football field and training center in Valencia City.

Ramon Manlunas, president of the Bukidnon Football Association, announced Tuesday that the province will have its “world-class football center” by summer of 2013, the expected time of completion of construction work.

The project, the first in Mindanao, is released under the Goal Project 4 grant of FIFA and is meant to “create a bigger base for Philippine football and encourage grassroots development for the sport.”

The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) – Bukidnon Football Association (BUFA) counterpart, Manlunas added, is a five-hectare land in Barangay Hagkol donated by the Garcia family in Valencia.

BUFA will run the center upon its expected opening in May 2013, he said in the press conference in time for the launching of the PFF Smart National Club Championship – Northern Mindanao Playoffs, which will be held here from October 17 to 21.

Manlunas said Bukidnon’s win in the bid took a long way in the FIFA selection process.

The other contenders for the project, he said, were the football association in the cities of Dapitan, Davao and Tagum.

He said the 17 provincial football associations in Mindanao eventually voted to locate the facility in Bukidnon.

“We are at the center, the heart of Mindanao. Valencia City is also the heart of Bukidnon (geographically),” he added.

The project was initially offered to Del Monte Philippines, Inc. in Manolo Fortich in 2010, where there is a wide following for football. But he said the donation of land in Valencia City gave it away.

The groundbreaking at the project site was held last July 2012, according to Marie Joy Gamboa, BUFA secretary-general.

FIFA is supervising the construction of the project, BUFA officials said. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)