Everyone has an opinion about the brawl that happened during the FIBA World Cup Qualifier match between Gilas Pilipinas and the Australian Boomers. The Philippine Arena became a fighting ring when a swarm of Filipino players and coaches attacked the Australians after Daniel Kickert threw an elbow to Roger Pogoy’s face. While there are those who say that the act is disgusting, there are also Pinoys who can empathize with what happened.
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But no matter how much we dig deep to prove who started the melee, three things remain true: First, our team lost by a big margin due to poor offensive execution and the inability to stop their motion offense. Second, the Australians psyched our players and coaches out to throw them off the game. That’s an advantage you will need especially if you are playing in front of rabid fans at your opponent’s home court. Third, the Boomers just had a taller roster over-all and it would be challenging to put up a shot against them.
We can’t do anything about the first two premises anymore. However, the third can be an opening for the Philippines to embrace a sport that has a more massive global appeal. A sport wherein we can vent out our #PUSO and yet have an equal shot of winning. A sport that can open more doors to improve the lives of more Filipinos who can become heroes to succeeding generations. What better time for us to embrace football more openly now that the FIFA World Cup 2018 is on its final stages.
The underlying reason why we embraced basketball is our inclination to imitate what Americans do. From our music to our clothes, we are influenced by their way of life. As a sport that keeps us connected, it lets us share a common language with our most powerful political ally. But beyond this long-standing partnership, basketball appeals to us because we can easily appreciate the game because the score piles up. If it is a close match, we can isolate the turning point of the game. We can determine which player had a great or poor performance due to their individual stats.
Try analyzing a 0-0 draw in football and determine who played well. But save for dissecting a game, here are reasons why we can excel at football:
- Height is not needed –The best players in the sport are not necessarily the tallest ones. Being short in football is an advantage too for you have a lower center of gravity which helps in balancing through passes and crosses.
- Speed kills – We have fast players that can exploit the vast football field and find the holes in the opponent’s defense.
- It’s not as hard to come back – If a team is down a goal, it’s just one goal. While running time in football plus physical defenders adds pressure, one goal can tie the game. Compare that to basketball wherein one basket can be two or three points.
- Sanctions are given immediately – This will help keep player’s emotions controlled because there are no five or six fouls per football player. Just two offenses and a player may be given a red card which translates to an automatic ejection.
Local football needs dire support
Given those reasons, football deserves the rabid support that our basketball teams get. The Philippine Azkals are doing good and they are set to play in the AFC Asian Cup for the first time in history. That is the big deal for it is the most prestigious tournament in the continent. While little is expected from this stint, it could serve as a learning experience to improve on.
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Likewise, the local United Football League folded after eight seasons and is replaced by the Philippine Football League. However, the PFL only has six teams in contention. Without much clamor from sponsors and the public, this league can collapse too. But after supporting a nation during the FIFA World Cup even if you know little about football, it’s time to throw support to those who play professionally in the Philippines. With more awareness, the level of competition will improve which will elevate the skill of our national team players.
Truth be told, we should not miss the opportunity on a sport that we really have a fighting chance. Young players should get FIFA-level coaching in order to hone their craft to be at par with the world’s best. It’s time that football gets out of its shell as a sport wherein moms pick up their kids from. Given a proper program that runs from the youth to the senior levels that parallel that of European nations, we can be great at this at the world stage.
When everything falls into place, we will shed tears of joy as our national team reaches the ultimate goal: our flag being carried by thousands of supporters as the Azkals and the Malditas play at their respective FIFA World Cups.
Lawrence Andrew Fernandez is a Digital Marketing professional that is passionate for sports, music, and travel. A journalism graduate from the University of the Philippines Diliman, he also contributes articles to Fox Sports Philippines. He is also a member of the CFC-Singles for Christ and a proud Cainta resident.