Friday, July 22, 2011

Fair Play: Pinoys, like the Azkals, are never alone

Latest column that will come out on Sun.Star Cebu on July 23

 THE Azkals, will be strutting off in a 22,000-seater coliseum at midnight tonight (PHL time) but they are not alone. Nope, far from it.

I guess it’s safe to assume, since their breakout success in 2010, they will never be alone. No matter where they will find themselves in the world.

Myanmar, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Bahrain and Kuwait? You name the place and they’ll always find a kababayan in the stand, the staff of the hotel they check into, or heck, even the medical personnel assigned them.



Kababayan. It’s such a Filipino word, isn’t it? Just like the team’s nickname?
You can’t really find the exact translation of the word, right?

Compatriot? Countryman?  Not even close. A kababayan can be a countryman, but your countryman, may not be your kababayans.

It’s all relative. If you’re in the Philippines, your kababayan is your townmate or provincemate.

Outside the country, every Pinoy, regardless of the town or province he or she was born, is a kababayan.

And that’s what will help power the Azkals against Kuwait tonight.

They felt it in Bahrain. In two friendlies against the host’s 23-Under squad, there were so many Filipinos in the stand the Gulf Daily News had to revise its earlier estimate of 5,000 Pinoys to between 12,000 to 15,000. Almost the same number who cheered for them against Sri Lanka in the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.

No wonder team captain Alexander Borromeo said, “It felt like a home match.”

There were so many Pinoys that the Bahrain FA wants to invite the Azkals back, this time, for a four-team pocket tournament against Middle East teams.
That’s how impressed they were with the Pinoy fans who came out.

You see, other nations like those who make the World Cup, rely on a traveling band of supporters to cheer for their squad.

The Azkals—like any Philippine team—don’t need that. They don’t have to. Because anywhere in the world, perhaps even Antartica, you’ll find a hardworking Pinoy. The team found them in cold Mongolia and humid Sri Lanka. They found them in Bahrain, and I reckon, they’ll find them in Kuwait.

And no these are not the latest batch of Pinoys who are joining the football bandwagon. 

These are Pinoys, period. Pinoys who finally found themselves cheering for fellow Pinoys in their adopted country.

The same group who came out in droves in Scotland when Efren Reyes and Francisco Bustamante won the inaugural World Cup of Pool over Rodney Morris and Earl Strickland.

There were so many Pinoys in the crowd one said, “It felt like home.”

The Philippines may be taking on powerhouse Kuwait tonight and they are the underdogs but I’m not worried.

They are with the kababayans and isn’t that what a someone who leaves home for the first time learns? That you don’t have to worry if you’re with kababayans.
Do our kababayans believe in an Azkal miracle? Perhaps, they do.

And perhaps, like when they cheered for Efren Reyes and Francisco Bustamante, they can smell the victory.

But maybe it’s more than that.

I think they see in the Azkals, some of whom have OFWs for parents, their children, or even themselves—Pinoys now based abroad contributing for the flag and Pinoys who overcome such odds to be where they are now.

Perhaps they do and that’s why they’ll be out there. That’s why, according to one report, the Kuwaiti FA had to print an extra 5,000 tickets to accommodate Pinoys.

The Azkals are not alone in Kuwait tonight and for 90 minutes, for the Pinoys who got their tickets, it will be like home.

That’s why, against Kuwait. I’m not worried.

Because the Azkals, like all Pinoys, are never alone.

4 comments:

raineashly said...

WCQ scenario... PHL advance & UAE advance for Round Three.. wow, we r very excited to show our hospitality here in Abu Dhabi.. cannot wait to see u guys playing Here! You are not alone!

Arielle said...

Good read, kababayan! Kind of makes one wonder why back home, we're so divided.

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Mike said...

Raineashly,

That's a great scenario. I hope you guys get to see the team.

Arielle,
Thanks bay. Well, I guess we just need that one common thing to unite us. Sports does that sometimes. Politics is another thing...