Adad, who kept football alive, dies at 86

MANILA, Philippines – Rene Adad, who gave Philippine football a major lift for 20 years during a barren period through the Coke Go-For-Goal program in 1983, died at the age of 86 Friday in Bacolod City.

Adad's nurse, Daisy Gevero, told Rappler in a phone interview that he died at 3:12 pm. His body was cremated at the Acropolis, Adad's daughter-in-law added. Wake had yet to be announced.

Adad's wife, Carmelia, told Rappler, that even while her husband was in frail health, he would always watch a local or international football match in television.

"He gave a lot to football through the Coke Go-For-Goal program," said Mariano Araneta Jr resident of the Philippine Football Federation in a phone interview. Araneta said Adad was a member of the executive committee of the Asian Football Confederation.

A genial man who answered his phone even as Philippine branch manager of Coca-Cola Export Co, Adad led Coke-Go-For-Goal program's inauguration in Manila in 1983, four years after it was introduced in Asia in Hong Kong by FIFA, the ruling body of world soccer.

For 21 years, Coke-Go-For-Goal brought the country's best under-16 teams in the finals. It expanded the development role played by the Boys Football Association, which was Manila-based, and filled in for the Palarong Pambansa, which resumed only in the late 1980s.

The Manila teams did not always win the Coke-Go-For-Goal finals.

"This is what kept football going through that period. We got all these kids playing the game at an early age. This was a big investment in the youth for football," added Johnny Romualdez, who took over from Adad as PFF president in 2004, in a separate interview.

When the program ended in 2004, around 300 teams were taking part in the eliminations all over the Philippines, and with the entry of the foreign-based players like the Younghusband brothers, Phil and James, in 2005, the building blocks of Philippine football revival began.

The program came after the West German government ended a five-year football development plan in 1981, two years ahead of schedule – Rappler.com