Unsigned footballers train in Panama hoping for call

Panama City, Dec 30 (EFE).- The first rays of the sun find members of the Team of Footballers Without Contract (EFSC) hard at work on a soccer pitch in this capital’s exclusive Costa del Este neighborhood, striving to stay match-fit in hopes of getting a call from a club in the Panamanian League.

For a second straight year, Felipe Baloy, scorer of Panama’s first – and so far only – World Cup goal, is coaching the squad.

“The readiness and the attitude of the boys is very good,” he told EFE. “We work with the best intention to give them the best tools to keep themselves physically fit.”

The 41-year-old Baloy, who was capped 100 times for the national side and played for clubs in Colombia, Brazil and Mexico, said that he and his charges view the EFSC as a showcase.

“This type of program helps me to go beyond myself, to know what it is to be at the head of a team, when the opportunity comes to be with a club or a national team, to be prepared to grasp that challenge,” he said.

EFSC was launched in 2019 by the Panamanian professional players assciation, Afutpa.

“It’s similar to what they do in Argentina, Peru, Chile, Colombia and Spain. We took the example of those countries because they have more years of experience and the results can be seen,” Afutpa’s Carlos Rodriguez told EFE.

With a roster limit of 25, the EFSC currently has 22 players.

“It’s a program that gives the players a possibility of work, but there are not only players who seek to end up with clubs, but also coaches, physiotherapists without contracts, who are seeking a job,” Rodriguez said.

The current EFSC training camp began Dec. 11 and is set to end Jan. 6, a week before the start of the first division season. EFE rao/dr

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