Friday, December 07, 2007


I had a rare privilege to be part of a momentous occasion last night as we celebrated 100 years of Philippine football. A gala dinner sponsored by the Philippine Football Federation (PFF), was held at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel and our very special guest was no less than 'Federation de Football Internationale Association' or FIFA's Joseph 'Sepp' Blatter, together with 'Asian Football Confederation' or AFC's Mohammad bin Hammam, and my friend, newly-elected 'Philippine Football Federation' (PFF) president Jose Mari Martinez. I also met an old-timer in Philippine football - the great Coach Juan Cutillas, who at 84 still has his heart on the sport. Mr. Blatter rallied the organizers, players and the officials to focus on the development of the sport because he believes that the Philppines has what it takes to be a football giant, just like Filipino-Spaniard Paulino Alcantara, a world-renowned footballer, who to this day holds the all-time record of scoring 356 goals in 357 games played! It was a memorable night as Mr. Blatter went on in infusing new enthusiasm and lifeblood to a sport that has taken a back seat to give way to other less-exciting sports. The next day found ourselves at the Don Bosco Orphanage in Alabang again with Mr. Blatter, Mr. bin Hammam and Mr. Martinez as we witnessed a football game by the kids in attendance. My gratitude goes also to my colleagues at FUTBOL FILIPINO - Aldrick Diaz and Marilyn Diaz for the support, for Dr. Rafael 'Doc Rafa' Rodriguez for the same, and to a great athlete, Mr. Ayi Nii Aryee, a top junior footballer from the Republic of Ghana, who I now consider a Filipino by heart as well, as he is now doing excellent coaching work for kids in football, to the Union FC in particular, contrary to what some other individuals may think. I was privileged further to have presented Mr. Blatter a trophy and a #18 footbal jersey, on behalf of the Union Football Club. Why the #18? Because it is our collective hope and dream that by the year 2018, the Philippines would finally be sending a team to the 2018 World Cup! If we train our sights on that, we could very well make it a dream come true. But, it is also a reminder though, that when the One Great Scorer finally comes to write against our names, He marks - not that we won or lost - but how we played the game.

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