Azkals Lose. Azkals Enter Philippine History
Last July 23, 2011, the Philippine AZKALS, a football team composed mostly of the sons of the global Filipino diaspora, lost gallantly against Kuwait, while being cheered on by their fellow Filipino OFW’s. Both players and fans seeming products of the global Filipino.
Even with the loss, the Azkals enter Philippine history as the first team that ever played in the 2nd round of a World Cup Qualifying Round. Many, many, many years from now, when all the commercial and show-big hype has all but disappeared, a good number of us who watched the game will always remember the honor of watching history being made.
Indeed, from beginning to the end, the endurance and commitment of both players and fans were tested to the limits. It was as if the gods of football sent a message to all the Filipinos, are you willing to pay the price for your newly-discovered love of football? Is your love of the game pure and innocent? For the Azkals, the challenge of playing with all focus and intensity for more than 90 minutes against a higher ranked team. For the fans, of watching till the end, when the goals, yes, the painful goals of the Kuwaitis kept piling up. Will you continue to watch and share the pain? Will you continue to believe? Will you be there even when your team loses?
While the home game is still to be played this 28th of July at the Rizal Memorial football field, while all Filipinos are praying for a win, this is one game, one time, when even a loss, is a victory. A victory for the Filipino diaspora. A victory for the global Filipino. A victory for the Filipino the creates bridges across cultures. If football is the global game, then the global Filipino has found their game. Who knows from what country the next Paulino Alcantara will come from? Who knows what country the Philippines will play next for another World Cup qualifying round? Where ever, there will be global Filipinos to be found in the stands cheering for the global Filipino team, the AZKALS. Both, one and the same, products of the Filipino body and soul.