Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My Azkals Experience

It has indeed been a long while since I've been to a live soccer game. In fact, I could not recall when was the last time I watched a live soccer match. Must be perhaps during those PRISAA Games in the 70's or during those summer tournaments in Barotac Nuevo (Iloilo) where top local teams bannered by national players (like the Air Force, Army, Navy, etc) played. So it was full of excitement that, with my family, we trooped to the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium for the 2nd leg of the Philippines vs Sri Lanka World Cup Qualifying Match.

The last time I set foot in this sporting landmark was during the 2005 Southeast Asian Games (SEA) where we watched the tennis competition. But this one was different, far different. Huge crowds, excited and nationalistic, many in Azkals shirts and waving tiny Philippine flags. The feeling was awe inspiring.

Kudos to the organizing committee for a well organized and successful staging of the games. The many "checkpoints" all the way from the stadium entrance to your seats (I wonder where they got those burly men in black who looked like the bodyguards of Hollywood celebrities) were smooth and in order. There's a slip though that I could not fail to mention: they should have warned the public in their press releases that umbrellas (and other stuff, like water, big bags, or DSLRs, etc) are not allowed. That afternoon was gloomy so we brought umbrellas only to be confiscated at the gates. So during the entire first half where it rained heavily, we were like wet chickens in the open field.

The first goal to me was the sweetest. And it was a fitting tribute that it was booted in by the only home grown native talent in the starting line up; Chieffy Caligdong, the proud son of Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo, long considered the football capital of the Philippines. Being "partly" Barotacnon myself and knowing personally the Caligdong family who were my aunt's neighbors then, the pride is personal. It likewise brings me more personal pride and joy that this successful football resurgence is happening under the leadership of two of my close friends; Nonong Araneta and Mike Batiles, the President and Executive Vice President of the the Philippine Football Federation (PFF).


Meikah said...

It was one wonderful experience! Thanks for introducing to us the love of sports, Wizheart! :)

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