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, September 10, 2012

The ephemeral vibe: The Kaya Reunion Match

The ephemeral vibe: The Kaya Reunion Match
by rick olivares

Chris Hagedorn was worried for a moment. “I hope people go,” he said referring to the Kaya Reunion match that was to pit the club’s former players versus the current UFL team.

Then they arrived. Together with former teammates if not family or friends. An hour before kick-off there were over 50 past and present players at the BGC Turf for the first ever-friendly intra-squad match.

Some wore their former kits even if it looked one size too small. Age does that. But what age does too is form bonds. “This is a brotherhood,” reminded founding father Rudy del Rosario before kick off.

“And it’s true,” noted club chairman Santi Araneta. “Sometimes, I kick back and say, ‘this is awesome to be a part of a football club.’ But this one – seeing everyone and you think that we’ve had an incredible history and this is a good reminder of who we are and what we’ve achieved.”

There was dreadlocked Zion Amartey whose tackles weren’t only legendary but bone crunching.

There was Marco Nieto and Alvin Ocampo showing a flash of the skill that made them such great footballers.

There was Freddy Gonzalez who used to score goals by the bushel load. He scored a brace tonight including a laser on a quick turn. That and his trademark back flip was worth the price of admission alone.

Only this was free.

The reunion game spread by word of mouth and when it did, the date couldn’t come soon enough.

And so they arrived: Alvin Ocampo, John Vapor, Mikee Carrion, Philip Zemen, Kim Garcia, Selu Lozano, Joel Dabao, Butch Mondoñedo, Figo El-Habbib, Alex Camara, Salim Assad, Martin Legarda, Mooney Castillo, Zeeshan Pandith, Kleng Cacacho, Javi Duran, Marjo Allado, Armand del Rosario, Matt Jaucian, Paolo Misa, Freddy Gonzalez, Pilo Rossell, Jose Torbela, Lawrence Zamora, Rudy del Rosario, Marco Nieto, Peter Amores, Jerome Leung, and Philip Hagedorn.

Amores hitched a ride for former college and club coach Hans Smit to the game and when he got there, he couldn’t resist that he borrowed Armand del Rosario’s gear to play.

Mused Butch Mondoñedo: “This brings back many memories. We played the game for the love of it back when no one was watching."

The veterans – paunch and all – were obviously out of shape save perhaps for a few. They didn’t have their midfield set and Phil Hagedorn had to make current keeper Saba Garmaroudi sweat because he made a couple of Division One-worthy goals before Nate Burkey and Yannick Tuason beat him.

But youth and the technique and skill of the current team just killed the veterans, 8-0, in the first game.

In the second match (of a best of three series with each match 35-minutes long), the veterans found their verve in the middle as they finally got a shot on goal (even if it was at first off target). “We’re getting there,” puffed Kleng Cacacho.

And soon the veterans found the back of the net taking the second game, 5-1, over a mixed first team, reserves, and Kaya Elite.

Kaya’s first ever official head coach, Hans Smit said that his arrival meant that the veterans just got a whole lot competitive.

“Let’s relive old times,” said the man who knows nothing but tough love. He badgered his players for old time’s sake (with a smile and corresponding in-jokes).

But in the third game, with Kaya FC throwing its first team back into the fray, the vets were beaten, 4-0.

“It’s good to see the club with talent like this,” noted Nieto who looks to be in great shape himself. “Magaling sila. They’ve had good training.”

The championship pedigree is noticeable as is the style of play. Rule of the midfield as well as possession-based football.

By match’s end, all the players gathered at the center of the pitch. Two generations worth of footballers with the youth academy on its way. Every one is of a different background, strata, education, and ethnicity. But as Rudy del Rosario closed out the perfect way to close the day, there was only one cheer: “Una, Kaya!”

Starting XIs:

Kaya FC: Nate Burkey, Yannick Tuason, Sean Illif, Jonah Romero, Anton Ugarte, Toshi Hosoe, Ed Mallari, Kross Ubiam, Anton del Rosario, Evan Santos, Saba Gamaroudi.

Kaya veterans: Philip Hagedorn, Kleng Cacacho, Marjo Allado, Martin Legarda, Selu Lozano, Pilo Rosell, Alvin Ocampo, Marco Nieto, Salim Assad, Rudy del Rosario, Freddy Gonzalez.

I would jog around the Ateneo campus. To lose weight and get in shape, I reasoned out. Only, I failed. There would be a football match going on. There was Pasargad. Air Force. Navy. Loyola. Union. And Kaya. I thought them weird with their red and green socks. I thought them cool because of the international nature of the squad. But they played damn good football. So I sat and watched and forgot to run. And it became a routine. Later they moved from Ateneo to ULTRA to Nomads. I watched. One with the trees and feeling like a loser because the only ones who watched were the wives or girlfriends of the players. But they played damn good football.  And those days are forever stored in the good memory section of my mind.

For Lloyd Lim, Dave Fegidero, and John Rey Bela-Ong.

With Mikee Carrion and Rudy del Rosario (above) and Kleng Cacacho (below).

Thanks to the Kaya FC Board of Directors: Santi Araneta, Marivi Camcam, Nicky Camcam, Mike Camahort, Armand del Rosario, Chris Hagedorn, Philip Hagedorn, and Ramon Araneta.

Standing from L-R: Lloyd Lim, Dave Fegidero, Armand del Rosario, Aly Borromeo, Anton del Rosario, Christian Lozano, Gil Talavera, Selu Lozano, Hans Smit. Sitting L-R: Jose Torbela, Rudy del Rosario, Freddy Gonzalez, Red Avelino, Noy Carpena, Mari Javier, and Devilon Bayno.

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