Saturday, December 13, 2014

Fair Play: What now after Suzuki Cup exit?

(Here's my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Dec. 13 edition)
THERE we go again.

After the semifinal stage of the Suzuki Cup, we are on the outside looking in for three straight editions, this time losing to powerhouse Thailand, 3-0, in the second leg.

First it was to Indonesia in 2010 and then to Singapore in 2012 but this year's loss stung the most, and it also extended our goalless drought in the semifinal stage of Southeast Asia's premier tournament to 540 minutes.


I cheer for the Azkals because Azkals

(A rejoinder to Miguel N. Bermundo)

Where are the linkages between the street football communities and the Philippine national team?

That's a good question. That's a question folks outside Manila has been asking, too, for years before the Azkals came into prominence.

But, I tell you, a player from Cebu, Tacloban, Davao or Mindanao has more chances, now, of making the national team than before. Before, it was all about the Air Force, the Army or the Navy, or, if you're lucky, you'd get noticed if you happen to know a friend who knows a friend who knew about the national senior team tryout. Was that better than getting the Fil-Foreigners abroad?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Fair Play: A crazy dream: A win against Thailand!

DREAMS are weird right? Sometimes, you remember only that last moments, those fleeting moments just before you wake up.

Well, I had one last night. Stuck on a hospital bench that was a bit too small, the only thing good about my sleep was that crazy dream I remembered waking up.

Misagh Bahadoran celebrating like crazy against Thailand. All I remember was Misagh screaming like crazy to the camera and jumping on to player wearing a substitute's bib.  

Feedback: The sorry state of Rizal Memorial Stadium

FEEDBACK. Here's a feed back from a reader:

Mike, me and my son heeded the Azkals for support during the home game. Now, for future games may the Azkals management heed the fans voice. Last Saturday, RMS is continually degrading.

We sat at the bleachers section thinking that it would be fun. It was but the facilities are not. About 5000 fans were made to contend with six unlighted portalets. Worse, I asked the ushers if there was any CR available an usher answered that the walls can be used. i said that I wont do it because only animals do it and what kind of example would be to my son.

Though there was ample food especially done by family mart, the compound is dirty. Attendance was not full and I am of the opinion that if Manila can not fill it up then Panaad or Cebu should host the Azkals' next important games. Why reward Manila when it is not cooperative? Reward Panaad and Cebu. I am from Manila but I hope Panaad and Cebu gets to host the next games."

My take: I haven't been back to Rizal since the Kuwait game in 2011, and though the pitch has been turned artificial, overall, the assesment I get is that our national stadium named after our national hero is still in a sorry state.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Fair Play: It takes a community to set a world record in football

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Dec. 6 issue)
OFFICIALLY, there are only 36 players involved in the Kick for Life FM101, the attempt to set the longest football match in the world.

But unofficially, there’s a whole community involved.

I dropped by San Roque Parish last Thursday and saw it for myself. There’s the army of cooks from Subangdako, the tanods and the policemen.

Sigurado-a nga gwapa mi dong ha,” said one of the cooks as I was taking her picture.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Fair Play: Dilapidated CCSC better than white elephants

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Dec. 4 edition)
SOMEONE posted this comment (edited) on my column about Cebu football.

A Wilfred Labidez wrote, “You have so many tournaments but pitches and stadiums are not well-maintained. How can you hold Azkals games if your facilities are too small for international competitions? You can’t even compete in the UFL because of no sponsors, so Cebu football will be only for Cebu.”

He’s right about the first part. Our facilities and stadium are not well-maintained. But if there’s one thing about the Cebu City Sports Center—one that leads some sports fans like me to scratch their head--is that it’s not just a sports facility. It has got be the country’s most overused facility as it also hosts field demonstrations, the Sinulog celebration, prayer gathering and what-have-you.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Fair Play: Be the 12th man for the Azkals

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Dec. 3 edition)
Hey, let me tell you something obvious.  A homecourt advantage only becomes an advantage if it is actually a homecourt.  No, I'm not talking about the physical aspect of playing at home; I am talking about the advantage of playing in front of home fans who are so biased that they'd heckle the referee for daring to say, call a handball on a home player even if he dunks the ball.

I'm exaggerating but yes, that's what we need against dangerous Thailand in the first leg of the Suzuki Cup semifinal round.  We haven't beaten Thailand, in 40 years they say, and the last time we met we went home whimpering, 3-0.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Fair Play: Are you ready for (lots of) football?

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Dec. 1 edition)
AFTER a lull for a few months, the Cebu football community enters its busiest stretch for the year.

There was the 3rd Sun.Star Cup last week, and then Gabrielle’s Symphony and another football festival after that and then of course, comes Cebu’s biggest tournament--and one of the Philippines biggest and longest-running--the Aboitiz Football Cup.

Of course, aside from the tournaments, there’s the attempt by the BPO football community to set the world-record for the longest-football match in the world. They will play at San Roque Parish for 101 straight hours starting on Dec. 2.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Fair Play: Imagine

CLOSE your eyes for a minute and imagine this.  You're at the Rizal Memorial Stadium and it's the home game of the Azkals in the Suzuki Cup semifinal round.

To your left are your beer buddies who'd willingly invade the field if you tell them to. You've been talking about this game for days at end and you are finally here.  The atmosphere is unbelievable as it seems, everyone is a football fan these days and you love it.

To your right are some friends you dragged for the football game, their first.  They've always wondered how you can be so crazy about a team or a sport for that matter that you'd stay up late or miss work just to catch some El Classico or some World Cup matches. You got tired of explaining to them the beauty of the game that in the spirit of Christmas, you decide to buy them tickets to let them in on the experience.