Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Philippine football: Our Home Team comes to fore

The other day, I asked some Bleachers’ Brew readers to share their thoughts and stories about the national team and the state of football in our country. And to the best entries, I am giving away some official 2010 Suzuki Cup programmes with copies of the starting lineups of our matches from the quarters to the semis. Mike Belza was our first winner. Our second is Ryan Fenix who I met during the send-off at UMAK. Well done, bud. See ya in the UAAP games and congrats.

Our HOME team comes to fore.
By Ryan Fenix

I could never fully fathom why people proudly wear kits of other countries.

Club colors, yes. Koreans play for Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, so I can buy that.

But to see a fair-skinned (clearly Filipino-Chinese) fella wearing the canary yellow of Brazil, or a very clearly Asian looking guy wearing Ghana’s colors?

Yep, I’m guilty on both counts.

Of course our country has a football team. Every country on this planet has to have a football team. To not have one should be considered one of the seven deadly sins.

Problem is, do we even know we have a National Team? Do they even exist? Hardly ever news comes out anyway. Does anyone care at all, save for a select few?

After the 1-13 thrashing we got from Indonesia a few years back, and countless humiliations before that…., the answer has to be NO. Mercifully, we were spared from further punishment by our non-qualification for the 2008 Suzuki Cup. One really has to be a masochist of unimaginable degree to be caught wearing the Philippines colors on your back.

Cue the 2010 Suzuki Cup, and said mongrels rise to prominence. For football loving fans like me, it is a godsend. It is like rain after 4 months of El Nino.

The attention is nothing short of miraculous, given our very masochistic penchant for basketball.

But the results, thankfully, are not in any way miraculous. It is a product of a selfless benefactor, half Pinoys willing to join the project, and full blooded Pinoys willing to work with them. It may seem good now, but you can only imagine how the situation was when it started.

No one cared. Not the general media, certainly not the general public. Fil-foreign players wondered what the heck they got themselves into. Local footballers knew, of course. But they themselves hoped for the best and expected the worst.

In this environment, our Azkals thrived to qualify for the 2010 Suzuki Cup, and booked a place to the semis.

There is this very distinct fear of mine, that this is all a mirage. A one-off. A fluke. And I am not talking just of the results. My fear is that once results do not go our way, attention to the Azkals would fall by the wayside.

I sincerely hope not. I am doing my best to help promote football, and judging from social network feeds, so are a lot of others. We all love winners, but my thinking is, we have to love football, win or lose. We have to love football even if the next generation Azkals look more like Ronaldinho than Younghusband. To do this, we have to start introducing the game, earlier and to more places.

I have been lucky enough to watch the last two World Cups live, and all I can say, the wave of patriotism is certainly something we could certainly use. The coming together of one nation is so majestic that it gives me goose bumps every time I remember it. In Africa, and certainly in Europe, people live, eat and breathe football. It would be a stretch to say the same here in the Philippines, but the two legs of the Azkals semis was certainly a start. Here’s calling to the mainstream media not to drop coverage once some results do not go our way.

I could name all the German, Brazilian and England team’s starting 11 plus their bench players and their coaching staff, but do I know anyone from our own Philippine team? Two months ago, I did not.

Now I do.

Did I jump into the football bandwagon? No, been cheering on the beautiful game for a good 8 years now.

Did I jump into the Azkals Bandwagon?

Absolutely. And I have absolutely no intention of jumping ship.


  1. Great read Mr. Fenix! :) I especially loved the last few lines of this entry.

    Mr. Olivares, I am an AdMU alumna (Judo varsity, SYs 2006-2010) and I've been reading your entries on this blog, especially the ones on AdMU/UAAP and Philippine football in general, for quite some time now. You have a very refreshing writing style, which is very enjoyable to read.

    Now that I've stopped Judo to make way for med, I've gotten back to football (used to play with Coach Jojo of the Alabang United team back in 2003-2005) and would like to know more about the developments of the sport here in our country. I'll definitely be checking this site from time to time for more updates. Thank you!

    More power!

  2. Very well written Mr. Fenix, like you, I am also an azkals bandwagoner, but this sport really need more people like us to be able to help it become more popular.
    More power to team Philippines.

  3. Football is my first love in sports, although I can't be at par with the real fans when it comes to conversation. I'm better in Baseball. And I have loved Baseball more. I got worried, that Football may be jealous of my love for Baseball.

    I decided to search for anything that RP has to do with Football. I found PFF's official site, only to be disappointed. I found nothing sensible. Perhaps I didn't look and search further.

    This happened in 2009. Even when I tried to search again this year, I found nothing. It's annoying. I really wanted to catch up with Football. I even set a goal in July 2009 that I will watch a game in person.

    Before we moved out of Fort Bonifacio, I would see some announcement of Football games but they're scheduled on Sundays. Couldn't watch, too bad.

    Then came December 8 this year. Our helpers were watching a game, and I knew it was Football so I checked it. Then I found out that Philippines was playing. I got so excited and was really happy.

    RP playing Football = Sets me on fire.

    Watching the game made me realized that I am so passionate when RP is playing. I've done the same before when we're playing against Cambodia. I think it was Tiger Cup. It was a tough game that RP lost. I even wanted to throw the remote on the TV when Cambodia scored. I just didn't want to be scolded.

    I hope our fellow Filipinos' support for Football will grow. I've always believed that the Philippines can do awesome in this game.

    I grew up with people watching Basketball games, but Football secured my heart. Yes, there's Baseball but that's another story.

    Like what Coach McMenemy said, we really need a league so players can play regularly, and so fans, like me, who are starving for Football games will have one to watch.

    So thank you, sir, for promoting Philippine Football.

  4. Many thanks, Sir Rick for posting this article.

    And also thanks to the dear readers.

    I hope let's all do our share in promoting the beautiful game. Specifically supporting and cheering for the Azkals.

    They are OUR Azkals, after all.

  5. Thanks!I have a nice read...

    Football has been loved by Pinoys, thanks azkals!

    I have written in my personal blog as well 'bout them