Limpag: I believe. You believe. We believe.-A A +A
Sunday, December 19, 2010
IT’S been quite a journey hasn’t it?
The past few weeks have been heaven for sports fans—not just football fans.
Finally, the country is taking notice.
Finally, the country is talking football.
And the rest of Southeast Asia is talking about the Philippines talking football, finally.
They’re taking notice.
For fans who’ve been with the team since the start, it’s a welcome change.
For fans who are just getting in on the action, welcome to the club.
And no, don’t worry newbies, when you started cheering for the team is not important, that you are doing that is what matters.
There are no bandwagon fans, just fans, period.
I’ve always said give Pinoys something to cheer about and they’d gladly do it, wildly.
Some folks are still in disbelief, it’s almost too good to be true.
But it is. It’s true. It’s not a dream, what you see, hear and read is real.
I remember the only time Philippine football made CNN World Sports’ Play of the Day—on a lazy Monday afternoon on Jan. 15, 2007. CNN sports picked a wonderful bicycle kick goal by a Malaysian, against the Philippines.
“By the way,” the CNN guy said, “The Philippines also lost 4-0 to Thailand.”
It was frustrating.
The players, too, were very frustrated.
These folks play for pride and nothing else.
Money? Well, haven’t you heard? There’s no money in Philippine football, unless you’re the president.
Now, I find it very rewarding that most of the players in that 2007 squad finally get what they deserve—respect from competitors and adulation from the public.
Especially Anton del Rosario, whose face was frozen in the frame as the Malaysia scored the bicycle kick.
And captain Alexander Borromeo too, who got injured in that 2007 tournament, the reason Malaysia and Thailand got four goals.
Ali, as he is called, has quite a story. He’s been with the national team for years, starting as goalkeeper in his youth, before moving on as a striker in 2004. Since 2005? He’s been a sturdy presence in defense.
Ali, Anton and the rest are basking in adulation because of Dan Palami.
And lost in all the stories is how Amazing Dan did it.
And no, it’s not about recruiting Fil-Foreigners. That’s only half of the story.
For years, the fans, coaches and players themselves have said it—they are ill-prepared for international tournaments. They need a longer training camp, they said. More friendlies, more tournaments.
Dan did it.
Instead of the usual two-month or one-month preparation, this team has been training for the past 11 months.
Dan shouldered everything. While that president went off jetting to South Africa on business class, the team was all business, training diligently in Leyte.
While that president was answering where the P10 million AFC aid went, Dan has spent millions for the team. (Did you know it’s him, and not the PFF who’s paying for coach Simon McMenemy’s salary?)
Dan did it because he believed.
And Dan’s done it.
He made the players believe in themselves.
And the team made believers out of us.
This team we believe.
THIS TEAM, WE BELIEVE!!!
What a journey.
And it was all worth it.
I believe. You believe.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 20, 2010.