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Man United 1 Chelsea 1 – United win 6-5 on penalties after extra-time.

Africa and half of Europe held their breath last night during the finals of the UEFA Champions League held in Moscow. It was an-all English football club finals between Manchester United and perrenial rival Chelsea.

Just like in our country during a Manny Pacquiao fight, i am sure that UK and Africa experienced a no-crime night last night.

It is just too bad that our DSTV subscription was finished last Sunday and we were not able to pay in time to watch last night’s  game. So i have to stay online until 12 midnight reading the blow-by-blow accounts of the match.

Being a filipino, i grew up with basketball. But because i am vertically-challenged, i have to find other sports that suits my height. And so i played table-tennis (ping-pong), darts, billiards, and golf. As a spectator, i love baseball, volleyball and lawn tennis also.

I really have no idea about soccer/football. Even in university intramurals, soccer is the only game i never bother to watch.

When i arrived in Nigeria, the first things that intrigue my sight is the dominating soccer-related products sold in the stalls — football jerseys, pennants, banners and stickers. I learned later that Africa is a football-crazy continent. And football is the dominant sports here.

So, to be able to adjust to the culture, i have to learn about football — the teams, the names, histories, and of course, African national teams. So by my second month, i could talk football like a native.

Our client in Nigeria is managed by 4 brothers as directors of the company. One is a fan of Liverpool, two are Man U, the other is Chelsea. And all of them are fanatics, really. One time, one of the brothers came to me and asked me who my team was.  i said, ahhm, Chelsea. And the guy just thundered his disapproval. He told me he lost respect for me and he went on to lecture me why i made a bad choice. He said i would be better off with Man U.

After that faux-pas, i decided to select other neutral teams. So i adopted Arsenal for English Premiership, and Real Madrid for UEFA. I even bought pennants to display in my door at the staff house and in my office desk.
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I have read among Filipinos sports pundits that too much basketball is counterproductive to Filipinos because we are naturally short people. They opined that we will have better success in soccer/football  and baseball, and attain the same status internationally in these sports as with South Korea and Japan.

Maybe so. In Asian football circuit, we stand a chance. But if it comes to FIFA tournaments, we will still be disadvantaged. Because, the truth is, football is also a tall-man’s game. The disadvantage in in height is well-pronounced during running game and crucial headers from a corner kicks. In fact, a goalie must be tall to have a greater reach for bar and post-targeted goals.

But the footballing world is replete with superstar short (by european standard) football players who made their marks on the international scene. We can mention Pele, Maradona, Tevez and Messi.

But height is not really a big stumbling block to make it to international scene in soccer-football. Man U, has a Korean player. I think i saw other Koreans players in other English teams also.

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You see, there is too much emphasis, and money invested, in basketball. And yet our basketball quality continues to decline each year as our national teams struggled (and lost more often than not) in various international competitions.

Too much fixation in basketball. We have PBA and PBL. Then they have the short-lived MBA. The LGUs initiated their inter-city nationwide tournament called National Basketball Conference (NBC). Aside from that, there is the Visayas-Mindanao LGU tournaments (MVBA) also.

We should consider introducing vigorously soccer, baseball and volleyball down to grassroots level and set up local, provincial, regional and national tournament all-year round. We should make our Filipino athletes as multi-sports athletes. Schools should emphasize on promoting multi-sports dicipline.

Why can’t they make a schedule that during HS and Collegiate basketball season break, the players can move to volleyball or track and field tournaments?.

I remember watching High School musical in DSTV. During football season break, the football varsity players moved to basketball tournament. I assume some of them will also play for the baseball varsity.

So far, aside from basketball, only volleyball women has as much attention as basketball. Only because we loved the sight of the tight uniforms that players wear, and because they got a solid sponsor (Nestea), and, these girls do not play basketball.

Other games

Other games are played based on social status. That is, you have a well-funded golf tournament from Juniors to Senior amateurs. On the other hand, you have the ‘tambay’ sports like billiards and boxing, which has given us more international honors than basketball.

Summer Open Lawn Tennis tournament for juniors used to be sponsored by Milo. I think. Alas, lawn tennis is an ‘elitista’ game nowadays. Very few (i know one) promising young players who are not well-off or well-connected get to see international action because they can’t get sponsorship. One of the most promising lawn tennis junior player i knew, who hails from Cagayan de Oro, almost did not make it to one Asian tournament. I heard his mother and coach were frantically looking and begging for sponsors. When the lad finally got sponsors, he did not disappoint them by eventually winning the said tournament. If only our sports association will acknowledge this young man’s skills, he could be a regular campaigner in international circuit. And who knows, he can be budding Mamiit later on.

Chess is also an under-rated sports in our country. But it is one of those sports, aside from boxing and billiards, which gives us tremendous international honors, from the elder Eugene Torre to the young wizard, Wesley So. And we should continue to promote chess tournament in all levels – from elementary to collegiate, in-school and out-of-school. I believe it is easy to promote Chess since it does not require big venues and logistics.

All of these sports, considering their growing popularity, should be given a rotation schedule of tournaments nationwide so that players from other disciplines can also participate. Of course, we need to provide players with financial incentives, other than medals.

Football United

I don’t know what happened to the summer Coke Go-for-Goal tournament for high school football teams. That is one tournament that LGUs, POCs and DECS should support and promote. Maybe they can make a national regular tournament out of it.

For example, an inter-High School footbal team tournament, playing for 6-months (24-26 weeks, played every Saturday or Sunday) qualifying games. These games will be played in home and away football grounds. With the schools group in geographical locations. Then the semi-finals will be played either in Vigan, Manila, Bacolod, Cebu or Davao. The finals (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th places) will be timed in summer. Venue can be any from those previously mentioned places. Since we have government-owned (or controlled) radio, TV and print media, these can be utilized to provide live broadcast of the games. Aside from the sponsors’s advert.

Commercial Soccer

Soccer is very popular in Ilo-ilo. As it is also in Ozamiz City and Davao City. I think Ilonggos have their own regular soccer tournament involving homegrown football clubs.

There is a website which covers footballing in the Philippines.

http://www.pinoysoccer.com/

VICTOR KINTANAR from PINOYSOCCER.COMThere is an ongoing 4-team Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup 2008 – Group B qualifiers tournament being held in Barotac, Iloilo.
http://pinoysoccer.com/gallery2/main.php?g2_itemId=1310

Photo is that of RP vs Bhutan action during the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup at Barotac Nuevo Sports Plaza in Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo, May 17, 2008. Philippines won the match (3-0) but lost on goal difference to Tajikistan who won against Brunei (4-0), and did not qualify for the Asian Challenge Cup finals set July 30 to August 10 in Hyderabad, India. (Photo by Victor Kintanar for Pinoysoccer.com)

And in case you are not aware, we do have a national soccer team called Team Azkals.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippines_national_football_team

These days, soccer tournament is mostly corporate tournaments. Like this 1st Mizuno Futsal Corporate Cup.

READINGS:

http://www.skysports.com/football/match_commentary/0,19764,11065_2995193,00.html?reloaded
http://www.bleacherreport.com/articles/24641-Manchester-United-vs-Chelsea-1-1-AET-6-5-on-penalties-210508
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/main.jhtml?xml=/sport/football/urowin.xml

Futsal – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
FIFA.com – Futsal – Mission and Goals

Pinoy Soccer:

http://pinoysoccer.com/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQgUZXBT3uY
http://blogs.pinoysoccer.com/

Team Azkals:

http://philippinefootball.org/
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippines_national_football_team
http://pinoysoccer.com/gallery2/main.php

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