Fair Play: Crazy week, crazy fans

LAST Jan. 17, when he stepped on the University of Makati field, all Paolo Pascual had in mind was to do well, impress the new coach and make the Azkal team.

About three days later, a fan first approached him for a photo. Four days later, he’s signing autographs.


And eight days later, after numerous media interviews, including with GMA 7, he flew to Bacolod as one of the 31-man Team Azkals. Right now, he’s living the ultimate footballer’s dream.

His dad, Doc Joel, who accompanied him in the first few days, said it simply when we met a couple of weeks ago, “What a crazy week!!!”

Indeed, it has been.

But it wasn’t without its risks.

Not too many know that Paolo had a real danger in falling flat in his pursuit, one
that even led to some self-doubts.

Paolo skipped the midterms to try out with the Azkals. Had he failed, it would have been for nothing—botched grades and football plans.

His dad admitted there were times when his son wondered whether taking that risk was the right decision. But numerous calls between father and son had Paolo sticking with the plan.

That plan, of course, led to that moment when his name was called.

“I was prepared for any decision, but once I heard my name called, I was surprised and shocked. (I was) very, very happy, but I couldn’t express it yet, I had to keep it in because they were still calling the other names,” Paolo wrote in an exchange of messages.

When he made the team, the fans came by the droves.

“I was like, ‘wow, how could this be so real and so fast’, It was a good feeling signing autographs and having pictures because, I guess, this is the reward for all the hard work and sacrifices I’ve done to make the team,” he said.

If he was shocked by the Manila fans’ reaction, the Bacolod fans’ reaction was a whole different dimension.

You see, Bacolod fans worship the national team. Back in 2005, when the team bus was leaving the stadium, I distinctively remember seeing a couple of undies thrown at Phil Younghusband. A few moments later, a pair of briefs came flying forward. And that was
after they lost!

So far, there are no such missiles but fan reception has been torrid. Once, they had to employ more than 20 guards so they could keep more than 1,000 students away from an ordinary training session. These days, they have to use the side entrance of the hotel they are staying as passing through the lobby is no longer possible.

And training with the team is tough—shrieking fans or not.

“Training is tough and the drills given are new and at the same time, the coaching staff are always there to push and encourage you,” Paolo said of their twice-a-day sessions.

Doc Joel said his son was all business when he decided to try out for the Azkals, training regularly and doing long runs.

“Actually a month before I actually decided to try out, I kept on making myself fit and ready na. I go to the gym for strength training, then sometimes I run to the mountains or do road runs, and at the same time train with USC whenever there are trainings,” Paolo said.

Paolo is going to need more of that dedication that now he is with the team. When you gather the best Pinoy footballers, put them in one camp, nobody is going to let up.

“Way magpalupig nila,” Doc Joel said.

And that should be the case because they are the Azkals.

CRAZY FANS. If fans in Bacolod are going crazy, there are a few boxing fans who seem crazy, and not in a good way.

After Rey Bautista KOed Alejandro Barrera in three, one fan started a thread questioning if Barrera even got hit and called it a “phantom KO.”

What? Give the guy a break, will you!

Poor Boom-Boom, whatever he does, somebody will always find a way to twist it. And that’s crazy.

Comments

[...] source: football.cebunetwork.com [...]
[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Maurine Guardacasa, Support PHL Azkals. Support PHL Azkals said: Fair Play: Crazy week, crazy fans http://bit.ly/g7l1dS #PHLAzkals [...]
toeknee said…
"A few moments later, a pair of briefs came flying forward." Got to give our neighbors in the west some credit, that move was a good one. roflmao.

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