Friday, December 09, 2011

Fair Play: 7 out of 10 for PHL football in 2011

(This is the draft of my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu on Dec. 10)
IT’S really quite hard to rate how 2011 was for Philippine football because frankly, there has never been a year like it.

On the one hand, we set a lot of records that it seems every Azkal game is a historic one and every match, is a battle for Philippine football, and on the other hand, the team, and the officials did stumble, a lot.

But still, for 2011, I give Philippine football seven points out of 10.

Why the relatively high score?

It’s simple. Back in Dec. 31, 2010, I posted 10 wishes for football in 2011 (The 10 things I want to see in 2011), and I while reviewing some back posts, I realized Philippine football hit seven of 10.

It could have been eight, but seven’s not bad, isn't it?

First on the list was national tournaments for the age groups and we had that—albeit a bit rushed—for the Under 19s, Under 23s and we even had a club championships of sort.

I also wished for more stories  about the UFL—our premier league—and mind you, I think Santi Araneta and the rest of the Football Alliance are in heaven with the latest edition of the UFL Cup. We also had international friendlies against Singapore and Nepal and an exhibition where David came to bend it.

Football tourneys aren't exactly held every month so friendlies are helpful for the team, and of course, for the sports’ promotion. I guess that fact that there were more girls in the Galaxy match than guys means a lot of newbies are starting to follow the players.

The past year also saw more exposure for the ladies, youth  teams and I wished for that because I wanted the new fans to know there’s more to Philippine football than the Azkals.

We have the UFL too, and I only wished for a local football show but instead, got two live local club matches, per week! 
And of course, in the UFL, we now have Azkal players seeing action, which has raised awareness for club football in the country and in the middle of this year, Cebuanos, got to see the players train three years after seeing the team rout a local selection, 6-0.

Though there was that rather comical incident when a staff in the hotel said they were under instructions not to reveal the players were staying there while the Azkals were tweeting, “We’re at Plantation Bay!” but, nevertheless, it was a good experience.
What are the misses?

This was my no. 2 wish last year and I think it’s self-explanatory, “A comprehensive preparation for the Southeast Asian Games.”  There’s no need to self-flagellate again because we all knew what happened, or didn’t happen.

Another wish, one that has been in the pipeline for years, is the long-awaited recognition for Paulino Alcantara, the legend from FC Barcelona (Yep, Lionel Messi’s Barcelona) who once played for the Philippines.

I think the two leading  proposals is for the PFF to name a stadium in his honor, or, barring that, for the PFF to give the Paulino Alcantara trophy for the Filipino footballer of the year.

That didn’t happen this year, and, with the way things are going, I don’t think it would.

Which is a pity because I think the guys in Barcelona would do more than smile if they learn we have the Paulino Alcantara trophy.

And finally, I also wished for the former PFF president to be held accountable for the three wasted years and for every single centavo he spent.

This could have been the eighth goal Philippine football achieved but I was told the current admin decided not to for humanitarian reasons.

And let’s leave it at that.

I haven’t made  a list for next year, but, I hope after a year when the players, and the sport, gain unprecedented popularity and following,
I hope next year the players won’t forget where they came from, I hope they won’t forget how it was when they were nobodies.

A smart guy once said, “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” I hope they don’t forget that because if not for one "foolish guy" who spent millions in 2010, 2011 wouldn’t have happened.

I hope, too, that we are going to have a healthy football media, where constructive criticisms will be the norm because praising the team to high heavens—in social and traditional media—makes them complacent.

How about  you? How do you rate football in 2011 and what’s your wish?


Anonymous said...

Same grade as yours Bai, but my wish is for the UFL to convert its teams to cities . As this will hopefully foster attachment to fans, instead of commercial names. Because they can still have the company names on the jerseys. Remember the defunct MBA, the fan support was so amazing.But how to do it in UFL, I don't know. And yes, Paulino A. It's about time talaga to remember and give credit. My god not only a brilliant footbolista, a doctor as well ! He's Philippine footballs Caloy Loyzaga. At least footballer of the year in his name. Speaking of footballer of the year, who is your footballer of the year in our country ? Daghang salamat :)

Alex E.

Mike said...

I don't think there's any league that has gotten the fan loyalty the MBA had. It was amazing! When we learned that we had a Socsargen team in the MBA, we started following the Marlins' games.

That's why I'm hoping Davao, Iloilo, Bacolod would follow Cebu Queen City, and field a team, one that will carry the name of the place.

Thanks for dropping by Alex E.

Azkaholic Anonymous said...

just in: it's 3-2 LAGxy vs. Melbourne VFC, penalty shootout.

the lowest point for me is PFF. on a scale of ten i give em a 4. lately they've gotten to their toes because of the critiques, good effort, but still way below average, still an F. i believe an official PFF webpage is a good gesture for transparency. that's one year past now, and counting, still nothing.

I give coach weiss a 6.5, a C+. That SEAG bit really did him. His leadership is a big question for me. I feel that he could do better.

Dan Palami, he continues to amaze me. both good and bad for this, but i think more good than bad. he doesn't let up, has passion for the game and what he does. an 8.0 is decent, I think. would give him an 8.6 if he slows down on rice and loses weight.

the Azkals as a whole: a 9. simply because they've gotten better and better and presents the Filipino fans the opportunity to embrace them and the sport in general.

the blue-haired dude: of course, a 10, and a hand salute. no boubt. extraordinary service beyond anything else.

the rabid Filipino football followers, prisoner-of-the-moment, or critical fans altogethr, a 10 also, for hunger and craving for more football.

and you, mr Limpag, will you take an 8.5? that's B+. for being professional, fair, and in some cases, bold. but i'd give you a 10 eaasily if you give us perspectives that are nowhere found anywhere else, the ones you may be holding back. you beat the grassroots youth program drums with me and a few others you'll get a couple of cold six-packs extra each time you examine these types of programs. i think i already owe you one or two in this regard.

lastly this kid somewhere, he's out there, practicing at this very moment, honing his young craft, getting in the mix, running extra miles, listening, observing, applying, creating, growing, staying late after practice, hoping, dreaming:a huge 10 for him and i hope more of his kind, will one day step up and show the world that we are a great football nation. they're out there, watch out.