MANILA, Philippines – Two executives from high-profile English club Chelsea are happy to see how Phil and James Younghusband have helped develop football in the Philippines through their successes in the national team and in the United Football League (UFL).
Ian Woodroffe, Chelsea FC’s international development manager, and Adrian New, the club’s managing director for Asia Pacific, are in town to launch the Chelsea FC Soccer School in partnership with The Younghusband Football Academy (TYFA).
In Monday’s formal opening at the Mall of Asia Music Hall, both Woodroffe and New praised the Younghusband brothers for their role in helping the development of football in the Philippines.
“You can’t measure how proud we are of seeing how two young boys grow into two young men, and they have such a positive attitude,” Woodroffe said.
“They’re great ambassadors for the sport, and they’re great ambassadors for Chelsea. We’re very excited now that we’re working with them more closely over the next few years,” he added.
The Younghusband brothers honed their football skills at Chelsea’s Football Academy in London, where they remained with the club for 11 years.
Both eventually made appearances for Chelsea’s reserve team, with Phil being included in the 2005 pre-season squad under former manager Jose Mourinho.
They eventually moved to the Philippines, where they made waves as members of the Philippine Azkals. Both are now playing for the UFL’s Loyola Meralco Sparks as well, with James serving as the team captain. Phil is the league’s leading goal-scorer.
According to New, Chelsea had an easy time launching their soccer school in the Philippines thanks in part to the Younghusbands.
“Working with Phil and James has been very easy. We first met them in November, and very quickly, we were able to get to a point where we can make something happen,” New said.
“Phil and James spent 11 years with Chelsea, so that really sent them on their way. So when we were starting to look at the Philippines as a market for us to develop our school, they were natural partners for us,” he aded.
“We’re very proud to have them for our partners.”
For the Younghusband brothers, it is a “dream come true” to have their old club creating a soccer school in the country they now call home.
“We’re very happy and excited, and this is just a dream come true,” James said. “I don’t look at it like a job, really. Even thought it’s a lot of work, it doesn’t feel like work.”
Phil said that both Chelsea and the Philippines were “very close to our hearts.”
“Obviously, you go to England and football is very strong. The activity, the level of play and the coaching is very high,” he said. “In the Philippines, it is still developing and the good thing now is there is room for improvement.”
“We wouldn’t be playing for the Philippine Azkals if it weren’t for Chelsea, so we thank them very much,” James added.