Bacaoco: All roads lead to Panaad-A A +A
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
"GUAM and the Philippines have very close ties. After the game with the Azkals, the two will be closer still,” said Guam’s head coach Gary White yesterday during the presscon at O Hotel.
I immediately warmed up to the British coach who was the first to greet me when I met him at the hotel café. Thus, I was concerned when he said that the Matao, Guam’s national men’s football team, lost almost half of their equipment during their Saturday practice at Panaad.
“The football fans in this part of the world are unbelievable. Our players fell so in love with them,” disclosed White, half-worried and half-amused.
Yeah, the Matao shinbusters were so enamored with the adoration of Negrense fans that the players gave away almost half of their equipment, including an autographed soccer ball, to their fans.
Before they lose their jerseys, the boys had to be reminded by their coach that they still have to play against the Azkals and two other Philippine teams before they go back to Guam.
Even just for this incident, we can already tell the Guam Football Association that the Matao is doing their country proud as Guam’s ambassadors of goodwill.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Matao will find themselves with a cheering squad come game time tonight. Filipino fans applaud great plays, regardless of the nationality of the team.
Unlike the Azkals’ opponents in their two previous friendlies, the Matao are almost kin to us. Many of our folks worked and settled in Guam. No surprise then that the Matao have six players in its 22-man travelling team which has Filipino roots.
They are Ian Mariano (4), Ian Adamos (8), Randy Navarette Espinosa (20), Christian Schweizer (3), Reyn Johnson (14) and Thaddeus Atalig (17). I included their jersey numbers so that you can cheer for them when you see them in the pitch. Who knows? They might be your long-lost relatives.
Of the six, Randy was the most bubbly. He narrated that, when he left Guam, his parents told him that, if anybody asks, he should state that both his parents have roots in Iloilo.
I told him that the vice-mayor of Iloilo City is an Espinosa – Joe III.
“Is Navarette a familiar surname here,” Randy asked. Sure, Rolando Navarette, the world boxing champ.
“Don’t know him,” Randy replied. “But I know Rex Navarette, the Fil-Am comedian.”
Hopefully, we will see Randy and other Fil-foreign Guam booters play tonight against our Azkals.
Let’s all troop to Panaad tonight and show our support for football. If we can fill the stadium to the rafters, we can be sure that we will be watching more international games in the future.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on June 13, 2012.