BACK in 2012 or 2013, when the Azkals was at the height of their fame, manager Dan Palami told me that they got so many inquiries from players based abroad that they couldn’t respond to them all. What they did was to identify talents in certain leagues--lower divisions in Germany and England--to invite to the tryouts. So, if you’re one of the players based abroad who didn’t get a response, well, newsflash, you’re not good enough.
The same was true for the local clubs. It seemed every Tom, Dick and Harry who had football experience abroad and thought it was enough to get a call back from the local clubs handed their resume. One such club made a mistake, giving a trial based on a player’s resume and boy was it embarrassing.
I’m writing about this now because of a rather interesting thread I read online, one that had one prospective coach crying discrimination while saying, “European coaches have more experience than Filipinos.”
I avoid Facebook like the plague. In fact, I’ve uninstalled the app from my phone. (Try doing that, it’s liberating.) But I do check it in my downtime and once in a while, I get tempted to reply.
And I was more than tempted to reply in that thread because the coach-applicant accused Cebu officials of discrimination because he wasn’t given a chance to lead or train a team given his “semi-pro” background.
I’ve covered local football long enough to have met more than a few of them, guys who follow the game growing up in Europe and scoff at our local players and coaches.
“We do it this way, we do it that way. You should do it this way, you should do it that way.”
“That’s why you won’t excel in football. You don’t listen to us.”
They’d be saying, “Your youth team should train regularly. Their best should compete as one as often as possible. That’s the only way.”
And I’d go roll my eyes because they don’t know the dynamics of Cebu or even the Philippine football scene. That unlike in the European setup, our players go to different schools and don’t sign pro contracts when they are 12.
That, unlike in Cebu, we have a bastard field in the Cebu City Sports Center that gets used for other purposes.
They think that just because they saw a certain model excel while growing up, such model will also excel here. Well good luck telling the parents of a promising 12-year-old that he or she should be thinking about football 24/7 when the same parents see that child as a future doctor, lawyer or architect.
Philippine football is far from perfect and heck I think our Fifa ranking is even deceiving. But discriminatory? For failing to accommodate the latest European ex semi-pro who dropped by for vacation?
I don’t think so. unless of course, you’re Michael Owen.