Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fair Play: A toast for new traditions, Azkals victories

(I forgot about my character-limit for mid-week column, so wrote a new one for March 22 Fair Play in Sun.Star Cebu)
SO, what did you do after the Azkals got third place in the Challenge Cup?

Did you, like Craig Burrows and Santi Araneta, splash your way to the Manila Pen fountain to start a tradition that will hopefully be repeated?

Now that, was something! I never thought I’d see the day when guys here would be celebrating that way.  The buzz on twitter after the win? Santi’s and Craig’s swim! We were all waiting for the pics to be uploaded because it was an epic celebration.

Who would have thought? Two grown men taking a dip in a fountain and getting applauded for it? Who would have thought this tiny football nation getting third place in the Challenge Cup?

Manila Pen, in the future, should put up a sign that goes, “Azkals fans, this way to the fountain.”

“Cebu should also start a tradition,” Dan Palami told me the other day.  .

Did you, like the rest of the guys spend the rest of Monday night talking about that win and Philippine football, over buckets of beer or coffee?

That was something, wasn’t it? A seven-goal rampage that had us on the edge of our seats, checking our watches while waiting for the ref to finally blow the whistle?  Admit it, after Tajikistan Turkmenistan, you were anxious to hear the final whistle, fearful of another collapse. 

Incredible, wasn’t it?  To win third place, when, just a month ago, the team was facing its fiercest criticisms yet.

And that win’s for you.  For guys like Lexton Moy and Angel Guirado, who’s facing more scrutiny these days, for Chieffy Caligdong, Roel Gener, Ian Araneta and the rest of the 2010 team members still with the squad and those who weren’t because of what they did all those years.

The win’s for Coach Michael Weiss, and Dan Palami and for the unsung heroes of the team, too, the coaching staff, the kit man and those who toil unnoticed.

But of course, like what the players are saying, it’s for all Pinoys--here and abroad (wink! wink!) for their support.  You have to hand it to Pinoys abroad, they go the extra mile to welcome the team, to make them feel at home wherever they are.

And that’s us, isn’t it? Going the extra mile for kababayans? Whether we’ve known them for years or just recently?

That win, too, is for the kids taking up the sport today.  You’re futures are brighter than ever and I’d like to think that one day, one of you will do better than Phil’s six-goal tally and the team’s third place finish.

That win was something and we should thank the team, too, and of course, a toast: “Here’s to more of them!”

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