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.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Clear Dream Match: the dream turned into a reality

Participants of the first ever Clear Dream Match thanks the fans who voted and braved the August rains to go to the University of Makati.
This appears on
The dream turned into a reality
Looking back at the Clear Dream Match
by rick olivares pic by anton sheker

The Clear Dream Match demonstrated a couple of things: one, Phil Younghusband is the best striker in the country bar none; two, shrewd drafting does make a difference; and three, Clear/Unilever made a huge leap of faith to do an event like this.

Five months in the making, it all coalesced last Saturday night at the University of Makati where the intermittent rains, mud, and flickering lights failed to dampen a great atmosphere as Team Phil, in a spectacular display of defense, mastery of the midfield and clinical striking defeated Team James 5-1.

At one time during the first half and the score 2-nil after an early brace by Phil Younghusband (he finished with a hat trick), I went up to the control booth up in the grandstand and joked with Dickie Rivilla that I was sure that “a Younghusband would win the match.”

The pun aside, the ultimate winner here is the sport of football and the children of the Tuloy sa Don Bosco Foundation (the beneficiary of the event).

I don’t recall the University of Makati being packed with 2,800 fans (out of the total seating – I repeat seating and not standing – capacity of 3,000 people. I am sure that if the rains didn’t fall we would have had a full house.

If there was cause for concern that the match would look unsightly amidst an almost unplayable field, the match was plenty competitive enough. Both sides took the match seriously.

Case in point #1: Boys Nite Out host Tony Toni (Team Phil) put in extra work for the match. Not only did the popular talk show host hire a personal trainer but he also worked out with a team called Perx FC so he would be able to hold his own come match day.

Case in point #2: Philippine Volcanoes’ Andrew Wolff (Team James) was hoping to play for a UFL team during last season’s UFL Cup. “I love the sport and grew up playing the game. Not as serious as I would have wanted as there’s rugby.” With a strong showing during the Clear Dream Match, Wolff hopes that he could be a two-sport star in the Philippines. “Just a little bit of seasoning and conditioning then I can help a team,” said Wolff post-match.

Case in point #3: Team Phil had a pre-game meal, a pre-game talk (complete with a power point presentation by PYH), and a motorcade going from Bonifacio Global City to UMak. They even had their own t-shirts. “We’re in this to win,” promised PYH.

Phil meticulously planned his team beginning a defensive unit that could repel almost any attack. He chose Kaya goalkeeper Saba Garmaroudi with the very first selection of the Draft. Then he picked out superb defenders in Loyola teammates Park Minho and Roxy Dorlas, Pachanga’s Yves Ashime, and Kaya’s Armand del Rosario. The defensive nature of his squad allowed him to gamble on the rest of his lineup.

While talking about who should be the top pick of the draft, I told Cathy Rivilla that there could be two people you want to start with and that was either Saba and Yves. And Phil snagged them both.

When the lottery produced for Phil his other Loyola teammates Byeong Yeong Jeol and Davide Cortina he knew he could now move the ball upfield.

With a strike force of Phil and Pachanga’s Freddy Gonzalez, this was his to win.

JYH’s defense was just as good with Anton del Rosario (one of my favorite players), Jonah Romero, Patrick Ozaeta, and Raymark Fernandez. Unlike Phil, James, in my mind, did not have a good midfield. He was forced to move Romero to the middle leaving the defense a little spotty. Even so that wasn’t enough.

Both teams were dealt unexpected losses up to right before kick off and it is to Team James’ misfortune that they were not able to make one key change in the last minute.

James lost much of his striking intent when Eric Dagroh didn’t suit up because he was out of the country (JYH only learned of this hours before kickoff). Jake Cuenca, who plays for Team Socceroo, was also disallowed by his television network to play. James picked up Diliman’s Allan Serna, a solid defender. But if one couldn’t mount a proper attack, then you’re in trouble.

Phil lost Freddy Gonzalez, OJ Clarino, and goalkeeper Wilson Muñoz. The latter two were disallowed by the team management because of some personal dispute with Cathy Rivilla, the business partner of the Younghusbands. The rule is picking out a replacement was to get the next in line in the voting and Phil produced two huge pick-ups in Anto Gonzales and Ousseynou Diop. I have written time and again that the best playmaking midfielders aside from JYH are Anto and Diop. Two of the three on one side is a tremendous advantage.

Anto was PHY’s wild card pick and the late addition of Diop was a fortuitous masterstroke (I am deeply honored that Diop dedicated his goal to me as he said after the match).

Both Ref Cuaresma (Team James) and Saba produced some great saves in the first 15 minutes as both squads got used to the muddy conditions. Team James even got three corner shots early but could not find the back of the net.

After a pair of spectacular saves by Cuaresma, Phil finally beat him (courtesy of a nifty assist by Cortina who was very impressive). But it was his second goal that was probably the goal of the night. A flubbed defensive clearance in the midfield saw the ball unexpectedly bounce Phil’s way. He found Ronald Batisla-Ong playing high as was Cuaresma. Phil’s long long range effort was on target as Cuaresma raced back albeit too late. 2-0 for Team Phil.

Then Diop who ran the ball up from central midfield found an opening where his strike beat a diving Cuaresma.

Although down 3-0 at the half, Team James made better substitutions in the second half with the entry of Dexter Versario and Pat Ozaeta as they stabilized the defense. They began to attack better and even pulled a goal back after a clever strike from James. At that point, Yves was not in the middle for Team Phil. When he went back in, the defense was more organized and Team Phil racked up two more goals with one each coming from Yannick Tuason and Phil.

The awardees were:
Best Goalkeeper: Saba Garmaroudi (no doubt)
Best Defender: Yves Ashime (see what I mean)
Best Midfielder: Mikko Mabanag (he did help his team in his minutes on the pitch)
Best Striker: Ousseynou Diop (James and Phil were disallowed from winning something in his own event).
Most Valuable Player: Park Minho
People’s Choice Award: the effervescent Eric Tai (from Team James).

One of the best surprises for me was not just the game but in the opening program where Ale Rivera sang the national anthem. Ale is a former Ateneo and La Salle Zobel football player. When I watched him in high school, he was a feisty player who talked trash on the field (along with teammate Patrick Deyto). One time, his then coach Hans Smit was incensed with his talking smack that he pulled him out and railed at him. When he moved to Katipunan, I told myself that he would be a huge addition to a not-so-very-good Ateneo team and he was. He not only was a free kick specialist but also good in finding teammates. During his time in Loyola, we would always talk pre-and post-match (I still make it a point to give pep talks to players and not necessarily to my fellow Ateneans). He has now moved on to other things such as design (if I am not mistaken). During the practice for the singing of the national anthem, he waved at me and I almost didn’t recognize him. It was only after that I said, “Holee Cats! Ale is that you?” that I realized who it was. We chatted for a bit and he seems more relaxed and at ease since we last met up following a UAAP match where he went to watch his old teammates in Ateneo. I hope and pray for this young man’s success. He’s got talent, ladies and gentlemen.

As for the players, I love the inclusion of the two Philippine Volcanoes. Eric Tai was like seeing the Incredible Hulk on the field. Man, I sure do not want to be in his way when he comes trucking my way. But Andrew Wolff showed some skills. With a little more seasoning and game experience, he would be a huge help in anyone’s midfield.

My tukayo, Slick Rick and Tony Toni were huge! They dove into this wholeheartedly and their commitment was amazing. Plus, I made two new friends and that is probably the best thing I can take away from the event.

I was also hoping that two former national players in Freddy Gonzalez and Rudy del Rosario would get to show their wares on national television. Freddy was on a business trip while Rudy didn’t play all that well. But I am sure that the country will get to see their talent.

When the Clear Dream Match was first being put together, I was approached by PR group Bridges’ Aika Lim who I somewhat mentored during her school days in Ateneo. And they brought me in as the football consultant where I managed to tweak the whole concept. But even so, I would not have been able to do so without the help and guidance of the UFL’s Santi Araneta (we had lunch to discuss this at the Manila Polo Club) and Randy Roxas who we discussed this on several occasions here in Manila and Singapore. Phil Hagedorn was also most helpful as were Ramon Araneta and Monchu Garcia. The UFL’s Coco Torre was also helpful in getting the word out. The NCRFA behind Atty. Rolly Tulay gave their approval on this.

If you’re wondering why only few clubs participated – Kaya, Loyola, Green Archers United, Pachanga, Diliman, and Team Socceroo – the answer is simple, the others chose not to participate for whatever reason. Chieffy Caligdong gave his permission to participate but because of the national team and other commitments he was unable to do so (even if he made it on time for the match). Stallion was supposed to have two representatives and it is very disappointing to see personal prejudices get in the way of things. The clubs that joined were very enthusiastic about the endeavor and I cannot say enough about them. Aside from the Loyola players, the Kaya boys were out in force. In fact, coach Kale Alvarez (my old UAAP commentating buddy) and Eddie Mallari who I have been covering since he first arrived here) were in the stands to watch. Now that’s support.

But what can I say about Clear/Unilever? They had the balls to do something like this and it is good for the sport. Their participation and throwing their weight around this was huge and forced some other corporate clients to take another look at supporting the sport.

Clear’s John Imperial, Nikki Abella, Carlos Corrales and the others came up huge in doing this. It was funny that John and I checking every now and then for updates on Ateneo’s UAAP match that day (yes, we’re alums) and with the Blue Eagles’ win and the success of the Clear Dream Match it was a terrific day indeed.

Cat Nazareno-Rivilla, Jojo Durian, and Mario Eala are also a wonder and joy to work with.

But as I said earlier, personal biases and prejudices aside, the ultimate winners were the sport of football and the kids of Tuloy sa Don Bosco. May these kids have a bright and bountiful future.

‘til next year’s Clear Dream Match II.

Starting XIs:
Team James: Ref Cuaresma, Ronald Batisla-Ong, Andrew Santiago, Raymark Fernandez, Anton del Rosario, Jolo Durian, Jonah Romero, James Younghusband, Patrick Bocobo, Nate Burkey, and Rudy del Rosario.

Team Phil: Saba Garmaroudi, Park Minho, Yves Ashime, Armand del Rosario, Roxy Dorlas, Anto Gonzales, Byeong Yeong Jeol, Davide Cortina, Oussenyou Diop, Phil Younghusband, and Yannick Tuason.

With Tony Toni, old travel mate Yannick Tuason, Armand del Rosario, and the Younghusband brothers. Pci by Patti Mallari.


  1. RICK! You forgot to place Park Minho for MVP

  2. thanks for the awesome article btw tonytoni plays with us just as correction on the spelling :) PERX FC