Friday, July 15, 2011

Simon and the Azkals

OF all my years as a sportswriter---and they are but brief compared to the legends like Al Mendoza, Quinito Henson and Recah Trinidad (Yes, that Recah Trinidad)---I've seen the best and worst of sports figures and sportswriters.

That latest column of Recah Trinidad, which wasn't really a column but a translation of one's work, had to be
a new low point.

What was Trinidad's point? To raise a discourse? Well, he more than succeeded and he, and Danny Simon, have earned a lot of new nicknames. And why would a self-respecting columnist dedicate an entire column translating someone's work?

No one does that. And even the most slanted of columnists would let their own words do the talking.
Simon got so many points wrong I don't know where to start. He also added more proof to the belief that mainstream writers (except for a few) know shit about football.

But Trinidad and Simon gave me a starting point. In his commentary before his translation, Trinidad wrote, "Contrary to what was popularly projected, not everybody went home happy..."

He's right, of course, it's wrong to generalize that everybody went home happy because there's always that discontented soul (even in Manny Pacquiao fights). But why did he let Simon get away with that sweeping statement… "When no one gave a damn about football.."

That's wrong, in the time when Simon, Trinidad and most of the media didn't give a damn about football, there were a stadium-full of fans who cared in Bacolod, there were those few hundreds who watched the Azkals rout the Cebu selection, 6-0. (A small point, yes. But the two writers are picking on everything. They deserve a dose of their own medicine.)

Aside from showing his ignorance in saying that the lowest priced tickets were P1,000 (There were no P1,000 tickets and P200 was the lowest prize), he showed his lack of understanding of the game by saying the Azkals had "so-so wins" over "worthless foreign teams."

Vietnam a so-so team? A Southeast Asian powerhouse a so-so team? Sri Lanka, the 2006 Challenge Cup runner-up, a so-so team? That's just like saying the Smart Gilas is a bunch of overpaid amateurs who have accomplished nothing. A simplistic take that pushes an agenda, not one that describes a team and theme.

Luck of lucks? You could say luck played a factor---a small one---in that draw against Singapore, and even a smaller one, in that win against Vietnam.

But was it luck that led to the Azkals’ presence in the Suzuki Championships? Was it luck that led them to draw Laos, 2-2, in the qualifiers?

Luck may have led to the discovery of the Younghusbands (For story, click here) but was it luck that got them to play for the Philippines in 2005? Was it luck that got Chris Greatwich in 2004? And was it luck that led Aly Borromeo, Chieffy Caligdong, Aris Caslib and the rest of the 2004 team---the one that started this success---together?

I agree, the name of the game of the Sri Lanka vs. Philippines match was arrogance, media's arrogance.

How dare Simon claim that the Azkals' success was a product of media promotion. It isn't. The Azkals are the current darling because they toiled hard for six years, earning a breakthrough campaign in the 2010 Suzuki Cup under media's radar. UNDER media’s radar, and Simon dare say media patronage led to tremendous support? Facebook and fan blogs helped generate it!

How arrogant for Simon to claim that, just because he is a mediaman. And curiously, I never heard of any complaint from the real mediamen who helped promote the Azkal match.

This reminds me of one time when I was in the basketball beat and I wrote tons of articles for the PBA All-Star game in Cebu in 2004.

After covering all the hooplah, the press conferences and the pre-All-Star festivities, I went to the designated media seat for the All-Star game but couldn't find a seat.

Why? They were all occupied by that strange creature, the "haoshiao" sportswriters. These guys are only sportswriters when there are big events and they want freebies, or brown envelopes. They use the power of the press card to get what they want, and threaten all kinds of hell if they don't get it.

I'm also glad that Simon took the liberty of exposing the maltreatment of the Philippine national athletes, who were shooed away. It was mistake that should not be repeated.

But Simon is barking at the wrong tree.

I believe all he has to do, is get up from his seat in that "Exclusive Headquarters" of his, where everything is paid for by the PSC, go to office where the PSC Chairman stays and ask him, "Why did you throw out our athletes?" (By the way, what the hell were they doing in their “Exclusive Quarters” on a Sunday?)

Why didn't he do that? Question his boss…er…I mean the PSC chair? (Any enterprising soul out there who wants to learn how much the PSC spends for the media vis-à-vis the athletes?).

Lastly, Simon tried to highlight the rough treatment between the "pure-bred" national athletes and the "mongrels of doubtful pedigree." Fil-foreigners whom he earlier called, “Highly-paid.”

I don’t know if it was just lost in translation but for me, it showed the extent of Simon’s ignorance. The Pinoys based abroad take a risk when they play for the Azkals, they are not like the Fil-Foreigners in the PBA, who are sometimes resented because they take away a high-paying job in the pro league that would have gone to a local.

And most of all, there are no doubts with their lineages. That Simon questions that is an insult to the millions of OFWs who save our economy and whose children are like some of the members of the Azkals—born in a different country but trying to touch base with home.

Simon also issued a threat, that a loss against Kuwait will mean the PFF will be begging for ever Juan’s attention.

Of course, like many things, he got it wrong. He underestimates the fan.

He also failed to understand why the team is called the Azkals—the askal.

It was never meant as a play about the team composition, that some players are “half and half.”

What is an askal? Is it not a resilient animal, who despite not having any home, an owner who regular feeds it, and despite getting shooed away, kicked and generally maltreated, still survives?

An askal stares at the face of adversity and spits on it. That was why the fans took to calling the team, the Azkals.

Simon had an adverse Sunday, and….


leleg esturco said...

Grabeh! i was moved with your article. i could feel that it really came from the hurt heart... those words are true... "crab mentality" still exists in some of sad. let's work together to redeem the beautiful nation called the Philippines... God bless!

Faith said...

"Mongrels of doubtful pedigree"? I'm wondering if he questions the athletes' Filipino parents or their skills.

Let's say it was about the Filipino parents.. Should we doubt that Mrs. Susan Younghusband is a Filipino? Should we question if Mrs. E. Etheridge is Filipino? (I'm sorry, madam. I'm not sure if it's Emerlinda or Erlinda.) Tita Mary Grace, Misagh's mum, speaks Tagalog and takes care of her children in a typical Filipina way. Should we doubt her too? How about the other players' Filipino mothers? And Jerry Lucena's father? Are we going to question their lineage?

And if Simon questions the players' skills, I think he failed to watch how these men played together. Neil Etheridge may not yet be at par with the other EPL goalkeepers, but he wouldn't be in one of its clubs if Fulham FC doesn't think and believe he can handle the most terrifying defensive role should those before him could not play.

How about the goals the Younghusbands, Chris Greatwich and Angel Guirado scored for the Philippines? Should we doubt them? Can you doubt the defensive skills of Ray Jonsonn and Rob Gier? I think we should remind Simon on what league these two are playing. And speaking of league, there are Paul Mulders and Stephan Schrock playing for Germany. Let him do the research and find out.

What is there to doubt? What "mongrel of doubtful pedigree"?

If he questions that, he is questioning the Philippine Constitution (1987). He is also questioning FIFA.

Faith said...

Erratum. Misagh's mum's name is not Mary Grace but Mary Ann. (Sorry po, Tita.)

fuck u said...

i agree.azkals is just a piece of shit. a product of media. over rated.

mark de villa said...

you were correct sir..
i'm an avid fan of basketball but i was open to braced football..
i'm excited to watch azkals game here in bahrain on saturday,eventhough i dont have a knowledge of their rules but i'm rearing to watch..
those sportwriters who glued on basketball sports have no f***ing idea(sorry for my words) about football. they even didnt know whats the difference between football & soccer..(only differ in spelling hehehe)..
if those moron basketball sportwriters fanatic could stay in europe during uefa leauge they now understand what is football,phils is only a few countries who sees basketball as ultimate sports..
look in european,arab & south american countries football is their passion..
tell them to compare football fans from that countries to filipino basketball fan..
football fans tend to a riot if there football club losses to their arch enemies..
in the phils,they only shrugged off every losses their teams had..
kudos to you sir..
by the way,before i forgot..
i am lumad taga cebu,i know football a little because when i had my jogging in cebu's abellana stadium i tend to stop & stare to football players practising their stuff..
more power..
ill be supporting you all the way..

-mark de villa..
bahrain,lumad cebuano

frank said...


Mike Limpag said...

Hi Mark, Naay taga Cebu dira sa team nga muduwa sa Bahrain. Pangitaa na siya, si Paolo Pascual. Goalkeeper na siya. Dali ra kaayo na duolon si Paolo, sama sa ubang mga Azkals. Wa nay libug.

Yep, it's sad to say not all sportswriters have any idea what football is, pero dili pud tanan mga sportswriters badlungong sama ni Simon. Naa pud mga maayo. Ang football karun sa Cebu, buhi kaayo, daghan na sad gaduwa sa Abellana

Mike Limpag said...

What are you smokin' dawg? It's fryin' your brain? And hiding behind pseudonyms to curse a writer is soooo yesterday (BTW, this guy's IP ad is Anyone willing to provide a location?

Mike Limpag said...

There has been no doubt on the players' lineage. Sadly, it was only Simon who questioned that. Simon's article wasn't really about the Azkals, it was about how he--the mediaman--was maltreated. I've dealt with his ilk before and they are always an embarrassment to the profession. Unfortunately, there are too many of them

Mike Limpag said...

Thank you. I've been writing about Philippine football since 2000, and the Philippine national team since 2001. It really pisses me off whenever these johnny-come-latelies bring their incompetence to football coverage.

Trina said...

Hi Mike, your response to Simon's article sums up a lot and more of what I would said to him. Your words hit it right on the spot. He actually calls himself a sportswriter? Well he surely shames your profession. My 10 year old daughter knows more than him about the team. And to think she just have started to follow Azkals after we watched the game on TV in Suzuki Cup last year. After that she just write Azkals on google and you would have lots of information on them already. Kabuang aning tawhana. Kapataka lang gyud. Pinaka makalagot gihatagan pa ug espasyo sa editor.

janQ said...

great read!

davidluiz said...

To Mike Limpag - Great article!
To Mark de Villa of Bahrain - there is another Cebuano in the team and his name is Ray Jonsson defensive left back) born in Liloan but raised abroad. He speaks fluent Cebuano too.

Mike Limpag said...

thanks bay.

Yap, roy Jonsson is Cebuano too. According to Paolo, bisdak gyud kaayo. Syagiti bay para mulingi hehehe