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.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Team Socceroo: a local side with a samba flavor

This appears in

Team Socceroo: a local side with a samba flavor
by rick olivares with photo courtesy of mark dimalanta

With all the news and hype of national players and celebrities playing in the ongoing UFL Cup, Team Socceroo finds itself included in all that talk. “I realize that people will always look to personalities to write and talk about but I hope that at the end of the tournament, they can also talk about our game on the pitch.” smiled team manager Wool Reyes over a cup of coffee at The Coffee Bean in Bonifacio High Street.

Team Socceroo isn’t one of the Johnny-come-lately football clubs that mushroomed after the success of the Philippine Men’s Football National Team last year as they have been around since 2005. Although the squad was initially an unofficial continuation of the program of football-crazy Southridge high school, Team Socceroo has come to include players from other schools and other nationalities.

The team has nine Brazilians of Japanese origins (who have made the Philippines their home) and actor-model Jake Cuenca in their lineup. Television personality Paolo Bediones is the team consultant. Their coach is a Jamaican in Neco Lambey.

“Since there is no college program for Southridge, our players go to other schools like Ateneo and UP,” related Reyes. “Their loyalty is turned over to their new schools. We created a program where we hold football clinics and camps for kids in the grade and high school levels. We wanted kids to look up to their fellow alumni and associate Team Socceroo with Southridge.”

After a time, the team switched to futsal but right before the 2010 Suzuki Cup where the national team performed so well, Team Socceroo switched back to the 11-a-side game. With the historic signing between AKTV and the UFL, the time was right for the team to play with the big boys.

Finding common friends with expatriate Brapanese (Brazilian-Japanese) players like Daniel Matsunaga, Fabio Ide, and Akihiro Sato, the team has become a melting pot that has been beneficial for all. “We like to say that the experience so far has been a transfer of technology (football skills) and culture between the foreigners and the locals,” added team captain Michael Reyes, the younger brother of Wool.

Added Amado “Madz” Nidea, who once played for Southridge and Ateneo de Naga, “It sure is fun to watch these guys play. But don’t think that Team Socceroo is all about having foreigners. We also have people who can play.”

But because of the sizeable Brapanese contingent, the team has taken somewhat of a samba flavor. On their way to games, samba music is played with each and every player on the team expected to chime into the manic and infectious beat. “Ah, we do some personal dance routines from out own seat,” laughed Wool with a mischievous grin. “It’s all in good fun and it bonds the team.”

Unlike other teams participating in the UFL Cup that are awash with corporate sponsor’s money, the team relies on some donations from a few sponsors and from their own day jobs. “Everyone either has a job or is an entrepreneur,” said Wool. “We all understand that before this can be a real profession, we have to show our worth on the pitch.”

And no doubt there is pressure on Team Socceroo. They are in Group B of the cup competition together with the Azkals-reinforced Loyola Meralco Sparks and their brother club Loyola Agila (which is composed mainly of their current college team), and Internacionale FC (a team with an assortment of Cameroonians, Fil-Iranians, Fil-Brits and others of mixed nationalities hence their name).

“No one is expecting anything from us but what we hope to do is shock the league by maybe taking some points from the other teams,” added Michael Reyes.

“Our team motto is ‘Plenus Pectus’,” offered Wool of his team’s Friday Night Lights inspiration. “That means ‘full hearts’. If we go out and play with full hearts then who knows how far we can go.”


REYES, Jose Gaudencio - Manager
BEDIONES, Paolo Antonio - Consultant
FRANCO, Bryan - Team Coordinator
LAMBEY, Neco - Head Coach


BERHAN, Haitham Abdelwase
CUENCA, Juan Carlos
GAUTIER, Janruther Francisco Rene
GONZALES, Jonathan
IDE, Fabio Luis
MATSUNAGA, Daniel Kenji
MATSUNAGA, Guillerme Mitsuo
MURAOKA, Denstin Hideo
NIDEA, Amado Fernando
ORAƀ, Carlo Rufino
PAIN, Alexandre
REYES, Joannes Paulus Mari
REYES, Jose Gaudencio
REYES, Michael Mari
ROZA, Christopher
SATO, Akihiro
ZAGHI, Hector


Next up: Pachanga FC, Loyola Meralco, and Green Archers 

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