A Fantastic Weekend for Football Part 2

I wasn’t expecting to do a part two of this blog… but last night’s match between the Philippines and Cambodia was too mental not to.

To summarise part one, we’d gone to the Girls U14 National tryouts earlier in the day and the four girls we brought along had a great time. Against the best girls’ teams in Manila, our 9 year old Althea, her sister 11 year old Regine, 12 year old Angelica, and 14 year old April Joy played really well, more than held their own and we were asked about one of the girls afterwards – meaning she is in the running to be called up for the National team. They have a tournament this June in Vietnam, AFC U14 Qualifiers, so that would be absolutely amazing.

Afterwards we were preparing to bring 100 people to watch the Philippines versus Cambodia, tickets kindly donated to us. A huge thanks to everyone involved with that, including Azkals’ Manager Dan Palami who has always been a huge supporter of us and other grassroots football in poor communities.

I wasn’t expecting quite so much drama, so wrote the blog and went out. On the way a few of the kids were transfixed, staring out the window the whole time stunned. It was the first time they had ever been out of Payatas (those kids were all around 6-8 years old and usually worked), and it was to watch their national football team play.

We get there in plenty of time, everything went so smoothly and the kids eat and get inside the stadium. Cheering the whole time, jumping around excited, the Philippines go ahead 4-0 in the first half against a weakened Cambodia side. Just before the half ends the floodlights switch off… the players go off for a few minutes as someone finds the lightswitch and the game restarts.

The Azkals then score two more in the first half, the kids are loving the chants and cheering with the Kaholeros, but it start to rain heavy. The rain picks up and the pitch gets completely waterlogged and the referee has to suspend the game and call the players off. With the kids literally swimming in the bleachers, they’re soaked through. They’re loving the craziness of it all and given they’re all soaked through we get them packed up and sent home to rest.

After over an hour of delay from the rain and against all odds, the game restarts and the Azkals score two more before the final whistle to win 8-0. It’s the second highest victory the Philippines has ever had – the first being a 15-2 win over Japan back in 1917 btw :p

So the kids get back, after national team tryouts, winning the mixed division of the Commonwealth Avenue Futsal League and finishing 2nd in the 12U division the day before, and after watching the Philippines rack up their best win in 96 years.

And for four of our boys (6, 7, 10, and 11 years old)  it was the first time they had ever been out of Payatas.

Oh, and the Philippine Football Federation’s video featuring National team player Juani Guirado train with Payatas FC and face off against eight year old Marcos has been put up. Brilliant video, “Azkals For Flag and Country“: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNqCNbPecmQ

Photos to follow.

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