23 December 2010

Football over Sipa

The Azkals ‘will still have to rely on Filipino-foreign players to be competitive against teams from football-crazy countries.’

Although it prided itself to be the first football team to represent the Philippines, the Azkals is not entirely composed of full-bloodied Filipinos. Among of the ‘foreign boosters’ were Neil Etheridge, brothers Phil and James Younghusband, Chris Greatwich, and Robert Gier.

“At this time, since there is yet to be a grassroots development program to be implemented by the [Philippine Football] Federation, we really have to rely on our Fil-foreigners. That has been a proven formula,” said Dan Palami, the team manager. “The Filipino squad will still have to depend on these players while football remains in its infant stage in the Philippines,” he added.

And to prepare for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup in February next year, another six Fil-foreigners will be coming to the Philippines to try out for the team. They are Patrick Herget, Patrick Hinrichsen, William Guerridon, Oliver Potschke, Jason Abot Sabio, and Jerry Lucena.

The coach who assisted the team to fame would then replaced by a German. Palami said that he only intended ‘to make sure that the coach that we're bringing in will be somebody who should be better and will bring the Azkals to greater heights.’

“A coach such as [Hans Michael Weiss] could bring the results that we would want for the Azkals this year,” Palami added. Simon McMenemy was the coach before Philippine Azkals was renowned.

According to the team manager, McMenemy is not yet certified by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). The latter’s contract had also expired this month.

According to the former coach, he was not informed of the development. "Feels totally disrespected. No call, email, text, nothing. Been told by a friend who watched it on TV, this is not how to treat people,” McMenemy posted in his Twitter account.

The “ïn” thing

The Philippine national football team has taught youngsters in Tacloban City how to play football. After all, that’s where the players trained for the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup.

Players Phil and James Younghusband had also launched the Younghusband Football Academy in Manila to teach young people, including physical education teachers from the public schools, about the sport. The two are among those who defeated the Vietnam team during the quarterfinals of the 2010 ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup.

Not too bad for a team that was ranked 151st in the world for years. Even President Benigno Aquino congratulated them and issued a statement of support.

Native sport

Before the Spaniards rule over the country, there was a traditional game that tests one’s speed, agility, control and coordination.

Sipa, which literally means “kick,” can be played indoors or outdoors by two to four persons by kicking a soft ball over a net in the middle of the court. It is somehow related to Sepak Takraw, Footbag net, Footvolley, Bossaball and Jianzi.

The soft ball could be made from woven rattan strips 10 inches wide, or a metal washer covered with cloth. It should only be ‘touched’ by the player’s legs.

Penalty points determine the winner. Whichever team causes the ball to bounce twice on the ground more frequently is the loser.

Pilipina Ako does not disagree with enriching Pinoy talent. Every person, every Pinoy, has the right to know and like the worldwide sport. Just please teach the Filipinos our national sport too.

If it’s any consolation, “azkals” is derived from the Filipino term for any dog with no pedigree, breed or class (askal). The team believes they embodied one: being an underdog in the world arena and unsupported by the Philippine government.


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