Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fair Play: In over their heads

(This is a draft of my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu on March 21)
NOW GMA’s turning this into a crusade for homegrown talents?  It would have been a laudable move if not for how the station got there.

While defending that Arnold Clavio’s statements were not racist, (while, ironically, making it look like the Pinoys have a monopoly of good values), an article in GMA’s website said, “While we have yet to prove that there are countless football players who are as, if not more, skilled than the Fil-foreigners we have in the Azkals, it is a valid question to ask of our national teams: why are there more hybrids on the team than full-bred Pinoys?”

Good question, let’s ask our national TEAMS. 

But wait, we’ve got more players based here in the U13, U16, U17, U19, U21 and U23 teams, right? Except for the senior team, of course. And let’s ask the other national teams for sports that are strong abroad, baseball, softball, tennis, volleyball, badminton? Same thing, too.

You know what was the last time Cecil Mamiit said when I talked to him? Before he toiled for six hours under the sun against a Japanese, puking, struggling in a five-set loss he was four points away of winning? He said they want to do what the Azkals have done, to make that big upset so their sport will gain support, too.

Why are there more Pinoys based abroad in the senior team than locals? It’s like this GMA, in previous national teams, you’d expect to see guys from Barotac, because their football culture gave them an advantage over the rest.

You pick where the best players are from.  And in those days, you could find them in Barotac.

Now, for the senior team, the best players are the guys who learned their football abroad. And right now, they are in Spain, Germany, England (I hope they don’t bring the English team’s luck when it comes to penalties) and other countries with rich footballing culture.

But that won’t always be the case, that’s why for the U13s to U21s, the focus is on local talent, with an eye that these guys develop to be strong senior national team members.

There’s even a plan by the PFF to let these boys experience what the Pinoys raised abroad experience, by fielding the U13s, U16s  in foreign competition and training, regularly.  The UFL, too, will give these future stars an option to make football a career. 

Why are there more Fil-foreigners in the senior team?  It’s like this, in 2002, during one gadawful match against Indonesia, the commentator (who I’d like to cover an Azkal match now) was praising the boys, “Wow! The Philippines has managed to string three passes!”  My favorite comment that time was, “Why is the Philippines making a corner kick when nobody is tall enough to head the ball?”

In 2004, when all these things really started, it was different. Why? The training helped a bit, the player selection, too and also a factor? The attitude of the likes of Chris Greatwich, Aly Borromeo and Chieffy and the other players (based abroad and local) who were making their debuts.

“They have this winning attitude,” coach Aris told me once. And to be perfectly blunt, we didn’t really that, between 1991 and 2004, what we had was a “Crap-I-hope-we-won’t-lose-by-10-goals-attitude.” 

That attitude has since been adapted by the rest of the national teams, which, if GMA bothers to ask, have more homegrown players.

Why the influx of Filipino-foreigners? This is football, GMA. Guys do crazy stuff to play for the flag. David Beckham, who pre-Suzuki 2010 was a regular fixture of GMA telecasts, risked LA Galaxy’s ire by getting a loan just to prove he’s fit enough to play for England.

The Azkals’ success—spread all over the world by the media—had many Pinoys based abroad wanting to play for the national team. And by god, we have so many of them (That’s why GMA has a show for them). These spots weren’t handed to them, they tried out, while the truly gifted like Stephan Shrock were sought out. 

There were a few disasters, too, but the PFF knows their stuff and don’t readily take in the next wannabe just because he says he’s done this and that.

The guys based abroad get the spots because Pinoys recognize talent, that much is true. And it’s not a one-way street. Let’s talk arnis and you’ll see guys raised here getting exported to put up schools because Pinoys, and foreigners, know that it’s different when you learn arnis in the Philippines.

Why do we have more Pinoys based abroad playing football for the flag? Good question, but I also have a good one:

Are you guys in over your heads?


margamae said...

another excellent article mike..

i remember what misagh told me in the airport yesterday when i asked him about the wound he got from the game against india, he said:

yeah, i always get injured.. in the head, jaw, chin.. we play for the country.. we give it our all.. so that's why it really hurts that after giving our best people still question our nationality and say we are not filipinos..

cul_jah said...

keep it coming Mike. Until GMA will bow to the football gods!!

arielle-cruz said...

Plain ignorance on that network's part. Even Brazil, a country that is arguably in the top tier when it comes to grassroots development, call their foreign-based players back to their national squad in big competitions.

This thing is a non-issue. Countries get the best players as representatives; it doesn't matter where those players are currently based or where they learnt their trade from. Best is best, plain and simple.

Do we really want to develop local talent especially in the football capitals: Barotac Nuevo and Bacolod? OF COURSE!

But what many, like... well... "them", don't see is that if this grassroots development were to succeed, enough for us to form an internationally competitive national team composed of fully locally-trained youngsters; it is inevitable that these players will be exported to clubs in countries that can offer them bigger compensation.

Then, we're back to square one: with a national team recalling foreign-based players during international competition.

jay laruja said...

thank you! even germany and france plays players with mixed heritage. Philippine football has been here long before GMA cared about football.

wandering-much said...

I was going to comment but it was too long and blogged instead. :D Sir Mike, I just hope with the debates over this issue, more people will learn how this sport works.

MD said...

Here is the link of GMA's attempt to justify Clavio's hateful speech with an article from Katrina Stuart Santiago.