Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fair Play: PHL's Seag stint not 'same-same'

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu on Oct. 30)
WE WERE traveling with Thai journalists on our way to the Thailand vs. Philippines match in the 2005 Southeast Asian Games when the visiting mediamen broke the ice and asked, in halting English, if we were willing to bet on the results.

“I give you butt if 1-0,” the guy said.

We just arrived in Bacolod and were tired from all the traveling so, it was kind of strange to hear some foreign media guy talking about butts going to a football game.

But, after a few more exchanges in broken English, we learned he was willing to bet 100 baht, and were even willing to spot us two goals.

Photographer Ruel Rosello and I wisely didn’t take it but we asked a baht’s value compared to the peso.

“Same-same,” he said.

When we got to the venue, the Thai journalists and us got separated but another Thai national got my eye, and no he wasn’t offering butts for anyone.

Clad in a costume that seemed unsuited for the weather in Bacolod, the guy was seated with Pinoy fans and was cheering wildly for Thailand and applauding the home team whenever it had a shot at goal.

The guy was very friendly, and despite sitting with the home fans, there were no exchange of hostilities. It helped too that aside from asking for tips from his seatmates—at one point, he was screaming “PALAKPAK, PALAKPAK, PALAKPAK!”—he had the Philippine flag painted on one cheek, and the Thai flag on the other.

I later learned that the guy was sort of the unofficial cheerleader for the Thai football team whenever they had games abroad.

The Philippines didn’t have that kind of support.

Then.

But now that the Philippines is again joining the Southeast Asian Games for the first time since 2005, and just for the second time since 1999, the U23 team won’t be lacking support once they play in Indonesia.

The Pinoys in Indonesia will surely be cheering and one guy will lead them, a guy whose legend was born on Feb. 9 due to liberal amounts of rhum coke—the Blue-Haired Fanatic.

There is one dramatic move that I hope gets shown on YouTube these days. When the cops, unsure of how to deal with the strange phenomenon  of a blue-haired guy, with the Philippine colors painted on his face, carrying the Philippine flag on a track oval just minutes of a home match, tried to shoo him away.

But with a flair for the dramatic, BHF planted the flag, kneeled and bowed as if to say, “I dare you to take this flag away from me.”

He was arrested.

I later learned that coach Michael Weiss told the PFF “to find that guy” because he was the perfect guy to lead the fans.

Now, nine months after his birth, the guy who will go down in the record books as the first to be arrested for streaking in a football game in Philippine soil is off to Indonesia, to lead the fan support for the Southeast Asian Games.

Yep, Philippine football is not “same-same” since the last Seag.

And the U23 team, which is currently training in Japan, has a really good chance of improving on the 2005 finish of 1 win and two losses.

For 15 minutes in 2005, when we were leading Malaysia, 2-1, I thought the impossible was happening, we were going to make the semifinals.

But of course, Malaysia spoiled that by scoring three goals to win, 4-1.

This year’s U23 team has a solid shot to make the semis for the first time since 1991, when most of the members were babies, since they got the luck of the draw and will avoid Southeast Asia’s tough teams in the group stages.

It will take on dangerous Vietnam on Nov. 3, Timor Leste on Nov. 7, Laos on Nov. 11, Myanmar on Nov. 13 and Brunei on Nov. 15.

The schedule, too, favors the team. After facing the toughest team—Vietnam—on opening day, it takes on Timor Leste next.

And of course, in both games, the Blue-Haired guy will be in the stands.

1 comment:

Maxva said...

26th Southeast Asian games will be starting this November check out details like schedule, dates and more here
Southeast Asian Games 2011