Limpag: Catching up with old teammates

A FEW high school buddies flew all the way from Mindanao and Singapore for the wedding of Harry and Mitch the other day and one of the things they asked me about was The Photo taken by Allan Cuizon.

Harry, our next-door neighbor, was our a goalkeeper in high school whom we would regularly pick for DepEd meets and the talk eventually drifted to sports during our high school days. (Lest I be shunned in future gatherings, I won’t use the full names of my high school friends)

“Trash talk? I can’t imagine trash talking during a game,” said Erick, a midfielder whose career ended when he landed badly and his knee bent the other way. “

Eric dragged himself to the sidelines, clutching his knee that was bending way out of normal and I think I laughed at him after telling him to get off the field. Now, he’s back to another knee-friendly sport, golf.

I told my kababayans some footballers in Cebu behave differently and some do talk trash a lot.

We played for different schools but grew up in the same neighborhood; we may faced each other in football but grew up playing tennis, table tennis, basketball, and baseball together and we also went to the same academic contests.

Eric, another midfielder who once scored the game-winning goal against us and a goalkeeper who was his next-door neighbor, recalled that there was also a period of intense rivalry between our team and that of Marbel’s, a rivalry that saw a few players sent to the hospital.

Eric, who went on to star for the USC tennis team in college, also recalled how one time, after practice a teammate in the province team took out a kamagong from his tennis bag, saying “Somebody is waiting for me outside.”

It was a crazy mix: sports, high school pride and machismo.

One player got whacked by a bat while he was drinking from a pump. And that happened

after a game where one got tackled so hard he broke his shin.

ERUF? In my whole time spent playing, I never saw a medic and sometimes we were the medics. When a player went down after another tackle resulted to another broken shin, we scoured the school for a folding bed, flagged a jeepney and carried him to the hospital.

We also laughed at the instances when we fought back when we hosted Marbel in the provincial meet.

Bilog was there in the crowd when an unfortunate player who picked a ball out-of-bounds got punched by a schoolmate before he got to make the throw-in. Our sneaky friend did that during the game because he knew after the game he couldn’t get near the other team, which had the governor’s son and a squad of battle-clad marines as bodyguards.

How’s sports down South? Bilog says in one game, the crowd was getting in on the

action, making heavy bets and sharing some with officials.

Ouch. I’m not surprised as a member of the entourage, Doc Joel, a wicked tennis player during his days in Polomolok, also told us in another occasion a curious tale during his time, which was a generation ahead of us. Once while playing tennis, folks in the

audience were betting thousands of pesos on him and this was in the 70s!

I also told them that I met a member of that Marbel team when the South Cotabato FA was trying to apply as a member in the Philippine Football Federation, and we also had a great time laughing at how serious we were during our “rivalry.”

Now, those things don’t matter and are but dinner conversations when old friends gather.

Of course, the rest of the time was spent poking fun at the groom and friends who weren’t there.



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