Philippines (Azkals) 2 – 0 Mongolia (Wolves)

Hello!

Just got back from Bacolod watching the Philippine national team against Mongolia! It was a great game, dominated by the Philippines and they deservedly won 2-0. Could have had a few more goals too but for some bad luck hitting the woodwork and some good saves from the Mongolian keeper – and at one point a combination of the two. Chieffy, the left winger, in particular was outstanding. He was hugging the touchline and was given so much space, put some great crosses into the box until he scored himself to break the deadlock in the first half. Phil Younghusband then scored in injury time, almost the last kick of the game, and of course everyone in the whole stadium was rocking! Celebrations were immense and it was such a great atmosphere.

More than that, it was so impressive to see the respect that the Filipinos were showing to the Mongolians. The fans applauded both teams and though a few people booed they were quickly stopped by other Filipinos. After the game Mongolia were clapped off and their bus going back was so warmly greeted by the fans who cheered them. In England, the bus would have been mobbed, the Mongolians booed throughout and their team jeered as they came off. The respect and fairplay the Philippines show is fantastic and they thoroughly deserved that fairplay award during the Suzuki Cup (where they incidently qualified for the Semi Finals for the first time in their history). The coaches are doing a great job building a team together and the Philippine Football Federation did so well organising the whole event. The Philippines haven’t played an international match at home since 17th May 2008 I think, nearly three years later and a bit of a mess during the Suzuki Cup when Martinez, the former PFF President, said that the Philippines didn’t have a home ground to play at, I think the people in the PFF now have really proven that when you’re passionate about football and not the money or the politics of the sport you can do anything! Kudos goes to them in a massive way! Football is sprouting up throughout the country and we can expect more investment and development in grassroots football.

Speaking of which, Payatas FC will be training again tomorrow 10-12. Kids from Kasiglahan have been asking about football too and want to join! So, we’ll do some training there as well – the kids from Mango will join in on that as they’ve been asking to play too. Their energy and passion are great to see! Looking forward to that and will let you know what happens.

Back to Bacolod, though, and many of the people there had heard of Payatas FC. The National team manager, Dan Palami, even encouraged Payatas FC and the grassroots development here. Both Craig and I were privileged to talk to the, Michael Weiß, who also said how he thought grassroots development was the way to go and encouraged Payatas FC too. Even some o the Azkals had heard of the project and were great in their support. They all played really well and so I can see football going a long way here. The Philippines has huge potential!

We’ve got plans to get goals made up and start taking this to other areas too. Very much looking forward to getting everything into place – if we can get sponsorship for the shirts and training materials, which wouldn’t cost much at all anyway to make and would provide the sponsor with great exposure, then the small costs of setting up would be totally covered. For Payatas, I’ve had a donation which covers those! Everything’s coming together well and will update you after training tomorrow.

Again congrats to the Azkals for winning the game. 1-0 wasn’t justice for a team that dominated the whole game and in the final seconds of the match to see the second one go in sent all us fans crazy! Brilliant to see – even got a Mexican wave going which went five times round the stadium!

And of course the football facilities will be tied up with helping out of school youth, street kids particularly. With the short-term goals coming together and a long term plan in place we can make so much good come of the success of the team and show everyone how great the Philippines is!

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