This appears on the Wednesday June 4, 2014 edition of the Business Mirror.
Be like Messi
by rick olivares
Move over, MJ. Kids today wanna be like another guy who isn’t particularly gifted height-wise but can run rings around his guards and finish with aplomb.
Take a bow, Lionel Messi.
The diminutive Argentinean made his debut on Gatorade’s bottle label the other day. Now athletes as endorsers are a dime a dozen (don’t take it literally as their packages amount into the millions) but Messi’s appearance on the bottle is a milestone.
He’ll be the first footballer (technically the second since there was a limited edition run in Iloilo for the Azkals’ wondrous midfielder Chieffy Caligdong) to grace the now famous sports drink bottle in the Philippines.
Targeted specifically for the football crowd in this year of the Beautiful Game (AFC Challenge Cup, World Cup, Suzuki Cup), it sends a subtle message that the sport is continuously making inroads in this basketball republic.
Last Monday night, on of those (in)roads lead to the Gatorade-Chelsea Blue Pitch at the Ayala Circuit where a special football camp was held for a few members of the media who tirelessly cover the sport. Since bringing Messi here would be difficult as his Argentina squad is preparing to play in Brazil in a few weeks’ time, there was the next best thing.
And that was the Chelsea Soccer School/Younghusband Football Academy presided in this facsimile of a camp where coaches and trainers from the United Football League and national players like James and Phil Younghusband, Chieffy Caligdong, Nate Burkey, and Tating Pasilan were given the opportunity to teach media a lesson (pun intended). Other UFL players from Green Archers United, Kaya, and Loyola Meralco Sparks were also present to support the different drill stations.
Basically, the camp was give the media a quick but close up view of what our footballers do when they train. This will help them understand the game better and know why players move this way, shoot a certain way, and so on. Hopefully, they’d come away with a better appreciation not only for the athletes but also why the game is played a certain way.
According to Pepsicola Marketing Manager Mikey Rosales, the camp is just one way of Gatorade’s supporting football not only in the top level but also in the grassroots and media level.
To cap off all the learnings, the media participated in a short scrimmage with the national players! How many people can claim to play in a game with these national players (outside the UFL squads)? This was definitely something to cherish and remember (at least for the media).
One of the cool things now is it is no longer considered baduy to root or even idolize local athletes or entertainers. Sure people follow and idolize Messi, Sergio Aguero, Sergio Ramos, David Luiz, and company but the Younghusbands and Chieffy have become local heroes in their own right.
Our country is like Messi height-wise in football and so are the inroads made in regional and continental competition by our national team in the last five years! They give hope that there is room for even more achievement and dreaming of making it to the biggest stage.
Now whether that Messi Gatorade bottle becomes a collector’s item or not, it remains a milestone. Now young Filipinos everywhere can aspire not only to be like Leo Messi but also like the Younghusband brothers, Chieffy Caligdong and company.