A few weeks ago after the game of the Azkals vs. the Malaysian Tigers. I read a tweet from Chris Greatwich (@chrisgreatwich) about the starting line up for the game, this is his actual tweet (Alot of people are telling me y’days starting XI were raised abroad- I know that! Is it a first? I need a football historian please). It made me stop and wonder is that such a bad thing? For me if you have Filipino blood and you are proud to play for the Philippine Men National Football Team why should it be an issue?
I admit that whenever I watch a game I will always wish that a full blooded Filipino will be able to score a goal. Whenever Chieffy Caligdong or Ian Araneta has possession I jump out of my seat hoping that they will score but at the end of the day whoever scores a goal and we win, we all won, not just that person, not just the team but the whole country.
Azkals players based abroad will travel long distances to play from our team. Chris Greatwich flew to Manila to play against LA Galaxy. Neil Etheridge went to the training camp in Dubai, played against Malaysia here in Manila and is now in Nepal playing for the AFCCC. Rob Gier, Paul Mulders, Jason De Jong these are just to name a few. They have to battle jetlag and leave the comforts of their homes to play for our country.
I think we have to remember that the Philippines do not have a deep grass roots programs for football before. We were a nation that was focused on basketball and other sports. We are just starting to recognize football in our country. We should thank people who are taking the time to teach Filipino kids how to play football nowadays. For us to be able to have a pool of players who can play for the National Team in the future.
We should recognize that this is not only happening here in our country but also in other countries like North Korea. They have players who have not lived in North Korea but because they have North Korean blood they can play for their country. I wonder if they get the same flack as our players are getting….
So the question is does it matter if you are a full blooded or a half blooded Filipino Azkal?
For me? It really does not matter, as long as you are proud to be called a Filipino, you are of Filipino descent and willing to play for the honor of the Philippines then you have my support.