Ever since I can remember, basketball has been the favorite past time for Filipinos. Heck, it has been considered a national sport since Philippine Basketball Association was formed in early seventies. But this sport has never brought glory to the country internationally.
I have nothing against basketball. It’s a good team sport. Anybody can play it. You can play it anywhere. Deaf people love basketball. In fact there is an ongoing conference being staged in Batangas City every Sunday courtesy of Philippine Deaf Basketball League.
Now here comes football or soccer! Its sudden interest among Filipinos sparked when the Team Azkals (coined from Tagalog word “ASong KALye” or Street Dogs) was formed. With good looking and equally talented half-Filipino half-foreigner players lead the team like Phil and James Younghusband together with even top scorer pure Filipino and my favorite left winger Emelio “Chieffy” Calidong , the game became instantly popular. Beating country after country within the Asian group, the Philippines advanced to Asian qualifiers by scoring against Sri Lanka gaining a FiFa World Rank of 159 as of June 2011.
What is truly exciting in this sport is that, unlike basketball, it requires speed and stamina and not much on height. Football is very much fitted to Filipinos because although God did not bless us with towering heights, He gave us the agility and endurance. Average Filipino height is 5’4″ which is a midget compared to an average international basketball player height of 6’6″. I believe football can put our country in the sporting map, aside from of course, the already phenomenal success of worldwide boxing icon, Manny Pacquiao.
Last July 3 was a truly awesome day for me because I was able to witness the first ever live football match in my entire life, the 2nd game where the Philippines clobbered Sri Lanka 4-0! Together with my Dad and my two deaf buddies Ervin and Jerome, we were able to witness this spectacular game. Ervin, my Dad and me were seated under the Php2,000 roof stage while Jerome was in a P200 open air.
The jampacked crowd was truly overwhelming because of the tremendous support and cheers to the Philippine Team even if they were soaking wet due to heavy downpour. Rizal Memorial Stadium has never been this full to the brim since the Beatles held their concert here in 1966.
What will truly amaze me is if football will be played by the deaf! I guess this does not require sound because the distance between players will not be heard and the deafening cacophony of sounds from the field will dilute any shouts you might belt.
Whatever it may be, I believe that there is a future for the Filipino deaf in this amazing sport. An idea of forming an MCCID indoor soccer cropped up during our post game dinner. It does not require a huge field. All we need is a basketball size court and a few arrangements in the area.
Who knows, we might give it a try. Deaf football, anyone? 🙂
PS: Philippine Azkals will be playing against Kuwait in the 2nd round of FIFA 2014 Qualifiers. We pray for the win! Go Azkals!!!! 🙂