Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The Azkals and the rise of a football nation

Posted by chardyboy on Tuesday, April 12, 2011 0 comments

source: Juan P. Francisco III and Roy Cagalingan / asianjournal.com

Olé, Olé, Olé! Or should it be Ahoo! Ahoo!?

We could hear the resonant barks of publicity surrounding the Azkals, the Philippines’ National Football Team.

They are in the papers whether it is about football or other personal happenings in their lives. Despite all of this attention, it can be said that they have been delivering amidst the camera flashes and distractions.

The Azkals, with most of its lineup composed of Filipino-Foreigners, are a hit with the women-folk and the media. They can be called the poster boys and that is not a bad thing. Publicity is publicity and they are inspiring countless young people to live the athlete’s life, one dedicated to commitment and discipline. This is a wonderful contribution to the rise of a football nation.

The sport came to us through the Europeans who introduced it in the early 1900s; however, it was overshadowed by the introduction of basketball during the American Period. 

And the long debate on whether we can compete in the latter where height is a major factor should be finally resolved. It is true that we can compete but we are losing our focus on other sports that need some fostering for us to perform in the international stage. That is why we need to start in the grassroots and give support to athletes at a young age.

Five years ago, the Philippines ranked 40th in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), 191st in the world standings of Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA); now the numbers are up, 27th and 151th respectively. It will take one step and kick at a time if we plan on sharing the field with powerhouse nations like Brazil, England, Germany, Spain, and Italy. We can begin by conquering Asia where Japan (15th) and South Korea (29th) are currently reigning.

Just imagine the spectacle of the World Cup in the Philippines. Imagine all the people who will be coming over for a big celebration. Maybe when we finally become an established football nation, we will begin seeing huge stadiums filled by countless fans from all over the world.

What a spectacle it will be, the privilege of hosting a World Cup and all the media attention it will gather like the recent ones held in South Africa (2010), Germany (2006), and South Korea/Japan (2002). But this is still a long-shot goal as the World Cup is already booked in Brazil (2014), Russia (2018), and Qatar (2022). Just the prospect of qualifying in any of the mentioned editions will already be a huge boost.

With the Azkals setting their sights in qualifying for the upcoming World Cup in Brazil, we can thank them for paving the way with their spiked paws.


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