Saturday, April 02, 2011

Fair Play: Football's baby steps

MAKE no mistake about it. Basketball is still the No. 1 sport in the Philippines.

That was made clear to me when we were on our way home from Bacolod City, fresh from witnessing the Azkals beat a gritty Mongolia, 2-0.

We travelled by car from Bacolod City, on the way to San Carlos City for the ferry back to Cebu, and guess what really struck me as we passed by the lonely road up the mountains? Three makeshift basketball courts.

In one that we passed that was located just a spit away from the cliff, some six guys were playing ball in the middle of the day, under the hot sun.

Perhaps it’s the sports gods’ way of saying, take baby steps son, take baby steps.

Still euphoric over the Mongolia win, and of how the crowd in Panaad—and the country—has taken to football, I was ready to proclaim it the country’s sport.

But, funny things happen.

Like seeing three basketball courts in the most desolate of locations on our way home.

I’ve never forgotten that sight. The fact is, every time I want to write about why the Pinoys should embrace football, I see those guys playing basketball.

Football has a long way to go to get to basketball’s level in this country.

There are a lot of football vs. basketball talks, or football vs. other sports talks that Aly Borromeo, that steely captain of the Azkals, had to say recently the sport isn’t taking the limelight from anybody.

Should football’s rise be taken as a threat to basketball?

No. I don’t think so.

This isn’t boxing where to be No. 1, you have to beat the No. 1.

For football to be No. 1, it has to be like the No. 1—it has to capture the imagination of the whole country. Not just love-struck girls, but people like those who would play basketball in such desolate places.

And I think football is taking those baby steps. I learned those answers, quite surprisingly, while spending my afternoons at the Cebu City Sports Center oval.

People who know how to play the game are teaching others.

First was a group of call center agents and I recognized conducting a clinic and among the teachers, a former player for a women’s college team. They were conducting drills, and though the skills were so-so, you could see they really want to learn.

I didn’t see the group again but they were replaced by another group of girls, obviously high schoolers learning the game for the first time.

Then, just two weeks ago, I saw two guys conduct dribbling drills for four kids. It was also about the same time I saw a father-and-son play football amidst the regular frenzy that is the Cebu City Sports Center.

And I couldn’t help but smile.

The two guys had their drills—conducted in that rare open space on the other side of the oval—to a T. They were teaching the kids ball control and dribbling. What I really liked about it is that I don’t think it is a paid clinic but the teachers—and the students—were conducting themselves as if it was a P3,500 summer class.

The father-and-son tandem too, was something. The dad, obviously a footballer in his younger days, was just letting his son get the feel of kicking the ball. He wasn’t screaming at his son—as some coaches do—and an errant kick would earn a calm “Ok lang.”

He was just introducing his son to the beautiful game.

And it was a beautiful sight.

P.S. This column was interrupted by the April 1 stories and, well, I ran out of time and energy to "beautify this."

1 comment:

Fair Play: Football’s baby steps – Sugod News Philippines said...

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