Sunday, March 11, 2012

Fair Play: Resentment against football

(This is the draft of my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu on March 12)
IT IS unfortunate that until now, there is still this “half Filipino vs. pure Filipino” debate in Philippine football and that it seems, if they could get away with it, cynics would blame the death of the Rizal Memorial Stadium pitch on Pinoys raised abroad.

Is it because of jealousy, crab mentality or a misplaced sense of patriotism why Pinoys based abroad get the flak?
I really don’t know.

And it’s quite sad that when these same Pinoys do well in reality shows abroad like American idol, folks are quick to point out, “Iba ang Pinoy!” but when they decide to play for the flag in international competitions, folks doubt they’re even Filipinos?

It seems, there’s a bit of resentment on the lost opportunities for homegrown talents, but that’s going to be a never-ending debate.  And how about the lost opportunities for homegrown talent, in the PBA, too? Nobody seems to be crying about that, everybody, it seems, just accepts that Fil-Am basketball players are better and that’s that.

We seem to accept the fact that OFWs save our economy by sending money back home by the billions of dollars, yet when it’s the sons and daughters they send back home, to seek an opportunity to play for flag and country, we welcome them, with inquisitive arms?

Perhaps football is the victim of its success (yep, relative success) and it seems some members of the sport establishment--including the traditional media---can’t accept the fact that the sport long ignored is right now, enjoying success?
Sometimes, aside from fellow mediamen, I feel this resentment from other sports officials, too.

“Azkals na naman,” is a comment I hear regularly.

“Talunan yan sila, dapat supportahan din ang dragon boat,” sports officials say. If it’s not dragon boat, it’s boxing, softball, baseball, and other Pinoy sports that are ignored by officials, fans and media.

Again, what these officials only see is what the Azkals are doing—on and off the field—right now.  What they don’t know is this didn’t come overnight, it all started in the mid 90s, when a then unknown Aris Caslib became part of a coaching program.

Aris became the national team coach in 2004 and it was him who ended the image of the Philippine team as whipping boys in Southeast Asia. After him, Nonoy Fegidero, Juan Cutillas took over the job. Des Bulpin, who some say designed the program that led to the 2010 success, also had a brief stint, before Simon McMenemy and Michael Weiss had their turn.

Mind you, between then and 2010, the Philippine Football Federation—like almost every other NSA in the country—was rocked by controversy after controversy, infighting after infighting that it seemed Pinoy officials would kill the sport.

But football didn’t die because of guys like Dan Palami, who instead of complaining of the lack of support, decided to put his money where his mouth is.

He didn’t complain in sports forums or press conferences, “Smart Gilas na naman, kami din dapat.”

He just did his job.

From Coach Aries Caslib joining that coaching program to Michael Weiss, that’s almost 16 years, what were the other NSAs doing all these time?

It’s funny how, when an NSA is rocked by infighting, sports officials, the government, media and fans, are quick to say, “get your acts together for the love of the sport.”

But here’s an NSA that after so many years of infighting, is finally doing something, and they resent it for its success?

Football is where it is now, because it paid its dues, surviving a sports culture that says the sport isn’t for us.

Instead of resenting it for what it is getting right now, other sports officials--and the media too--should start asking, “What should we do for our sport?”

Because that’s what football did.


Wiking said...


Chel said...

Well said! Really ironic when politics gets involved with any endeavor..

Brego said...

Good Bless You, really :)

john said...

I really don't care what the haters think or say. Football is here to stay and they better get used to it or die in envy for all I care.

Go Azkals!!!