Having a brother who is a futbolero, it is inevitable that I share the same passion, especially when almost all our conversations are sprinkled with football references, from prawn sandwiches to Angel’s shiny mane. No day ends without me hearing the word “Global” or “football” at least 10 times, so the curiosity had to end, and it was imperative to finally attend a real live UFL game.
And I did last November 26 at the University of Makati. Global FC was up against Pachanga FC, a name that leaves no lasting impression but can be a real starter for a million Filipino jokes. Actually that must be some kind of trend for football clubs, the weirder, the better: Kaya, Nomads and that club that ends with “roo” which ought to fascinate Coach Graeme as it should remind him of Australia’s national animal.
The sun was really unforgiving that day—but I was too busy filling up my mental cue cards with the names and faces that my brother wouldn’t stop enumerating—that the heat wave was the least of my concerns. Of course propping up an umbrella was a major help, considering that SPF 50 was barely enough to ward of that sunny spotlight.
The first person we had to see (in my case, look up to) had to be Angel Guirado. I’ve been racking my head, trying to come up with a slick idiom that my Spanish teacher might have imparted way back in high school, but I could only think of “Puedo ir al bano?” which would have merited a weird laugh from anyone not a janitor. Good thing, he came up with “Como estas?” to which I must have replied “Bien.” Before any damage could ensue, I had to come up with the disclaimer: Mi espanol es muy malo. It took my 5 seconds to blurt out the word “malo” so good thing he got the picture that yes, my Spanish was that bad.
Then came Coach Graeme whose pre-game perkiness seemed to be contagious. This was easy, “G’day mate!” I wanted to dish out more words in a faux Aussie accent, but alas, the game was the prime concern. Armed with his yellow cap that screamed Global FC, he was off and we were left wondering when we’d have the time to finally have a cup of Jamba Juice with him.
As always, the game was filled with personalities with various degrees of shouting levels. From the audience point of view, do not try to mess with any Global FC player or you are sure to get a mouthful. Come closer and you might just get whacked by an umbrella. Now that’s devotion, but from whom, well I’m not telling.
The Global players cloaked in their yellow shirts were a sight to behold, especially compared to the Pachanga fiends in their fiery red get-up. The field was so inviting especially when the training sessions began to resemble a dance number. The players too were quite the sight: from Jerry Barbaso’s elaborate ringlets to Yu Hoshide’s blue stickers (I was told they were like medicated patches but I still like to refer to them as blue stickers). JJ was the name that I first learned, as he soared in the air more than once. One of the Elhabib brothers had a knack for kicking balls high up in the sky. This guy named Val had green and white corn rows and if given the chance, I just have to ask: Which salon did that, man?
William, though, ought to get the pat on the back, as he scored the goal that ended the game with the 1-0 win. Filipino-German, it might be difficult to strike a conversation with the guy as the only German word I know is Saumensch and that’s the last thing I should say to the scorer of the day. Despite injury and bandages, he just played magnificently, and so should there be a next time, I promise to invest my time in looking up the word “excellent” in the German dictionary. Oh, and “No yellow card, please.”
“Taicho” (Captain) for the game was Yu Hoshide and post-game, I was tongue-tied and only got the chance to say, “Konnichiwa” which must be cliché already. It was really awful because I’ve been rehearsing phrases all morning, and I could’ve said cooler things like “Kyo wa hare desu” (It’s sunny today), “Eigo de hanashite kudasai” (Please speak in English), “Jige da yo” (This is my real hair) and the most obvious, “Omedetou” (Congratulations). Gomenasai Yu-san!
All in all it was a pleasant experience, having met the people behind Global, the coach, the coordinator, Mr. Dan Palami himself and the ever hyper staff whose dedication stands out on a SATURDAY.
This is how a football club ought to be, with a culturally diverse team that plays in absolute harmony and dance numbers to cap off a winning game. Their golden charm can be inspiring and their victory, my newfound goal.
They might need a little help in the dance choreography, so I nominate my brother in that department. If that still doesn’t help, we’ll have to ask the Coach and Captain to sing instead.