Fair Play: Imagine

CLOSE your eyes for a minute and imagine this.  You're at the Rizal Memorial Stadium and it's the home game of the Azkals in the Suzuki Cup semifinal round.

To your left are your beer buddies who'd willingly invade the field if you tell them to. You've been talking about this game for days at end and you are finally here.  The atmosphere is unbelievable as it seems, everyone is a football fan these days and you love it.

To your right are some friends you dragged for the football game, their first.  They've always wondered how you can be so crazy about a team or a sport for that matter that you'd stay up late or miss work just to catch some El Classico or some World Cup matches. You got tired of explaining to them the beauty of the game that in the spirit of Christmas, you decide to buy them tickets to let them in on the experience.

And then, you look to your front and break into a smile as you wish that you'd be beside them.

Just in front of you are the pretty college girls. Dressed in white and shorts that left nothing to the imagination you find yourself staring at them. They take out their cameras for selfies, and you take yours to shoot them.  But these pretty girls can scream and oh how they would scream and swoon every time Phil Younghusband gets a touch in the warm-up drills.  And when Phil takes a glances at them, they'd hug each other and jump up and down that you start praying for the rain.

Then you realize you're in a football match and that your wife's brother is a cop.

You glance again at the cute girls. They may not know their football, but they sure know a thing or two about supporting the national team.

And of course, just behind you are the experts.  The ones who'd break down the play every time and point out the lapses. The ones, who, when watching TV, would keep on countering what ever Bob Guerrero says. And yes, the ones who think they are God's gift to Philippine football and should be treated as such.  You'd begin to hate them but you'll realize that you'll pick up a thing or two from their expert pundit-punditan.

Then, right across you, there stand this group of fans—dressed alike. They move in unison. They scream in unison too. They'll also scream and shout and will show how they own the bleachers. 

“You're not welcome here,” they'll tell the foes, while welcoming those fans near them who'd want to experience being an Ultra.

And then, there's the other group too.  You'll find some familiar faces. The guy who brought that “doggie bear” in Vietnam.  The cute girl who seems to be screaming in every Azkal game and that bespectacled guy.

And then, they'll unfurl the biggest Philippine flag you'll ever see and everyone stays silent for a few moments.  Then, everyone sings along as the national anthem is played.

“This is our home.  This is our team.  This is our time,” you begin to talk to yourself in your mind, while stealing glances at the cute colehiyala who is stealing glances at the cute Azkals.

“This is our home. This is our team. This is our time,” you tell yourself over and over and over again.

But even your thoughts are drowned when the referee blows his whistle—as everyone in the stadium--  These random groups of fans scream in unison for the national team.

The Kaholeros, the Ultras, the college gals, the experts, the newbies, the VIPs you only see in really important matches, the artistas and the every day fans who have made the trip to the home game all scream together.

And then, a bit louder, in your head you keep on saying.

“This is our home.” 

“This is our team. “


Can you imagine that?  

Or will you see it and experience it for yourself. 


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