“It’s sweeter the second time around” – that saying might be true for love, but I am not here to talk about the L word, rather, my second UFL experience, which I should say, was indeed “sweeter”… relatively.
As I have mentioned in the previous entry, my football-loving friend did invite me last week to watch the Loyola Meralco Sparks FC – Kaya FC match. “It is going to be a big game,” she told me. But being the football ignorant that I am, I was not really aware of how big or small a game would be. I mean, they all seemed the same. The degree of importance of a game between two teams was alien to me. So I told her that I would think about, which I did.
Though the LMSFC vs. Kaya FC match would not start until 4:00pm, my friend wanted us to be there earlier to have good parking and seats, since it was “a big game.” She wanted us to be there as early as 2:00 pm! Being there as early as 2:00 pm meant I had to endure watching the first match between Pasargad FC and Stallion Giligan’s FC. I did not know if I could do that – watching two football games in one day. Initially, I wanted to say, “pass.” I would just finish all the work and errands I had for that weekend. However, as Saturday drew closer, I thought about how my weekend looked like – boring. Yes, I would accomplish my tasks, but it would still be…boring. Suddenly, I did not feel like being responsible on a weekend, so I finally told my friend, “I want to come with you guys tomorrow.”
So if I am not a football fan, why did I say yes? Apart from boredom, here are the reasons. Some may sound weird but are valid, nonetheless:
- I wanted to go out and just feel the summer breeze on my face;
- The stadium offers a vast view of the sky (and if you’ve read my 5:11 post, you would know that I like watching clouds);
- I did not want to be alone on that day, but I did not want to be with the same people either. I wanted to be with a different crowd – a totally different crowd;
- I wanted to have a break from my routine;
- I needed a distraction.
Although I had said yes to my friend, I told her that I would only watch the first match. I did want to get away for a while but I also did not want to spend almost the entire day there.
We arrived at the same venue the week prior, at the Univeristy of Makati, at 2:00 pm en punto. There were not many people yet, only a handful. This gave my friend and her sister, the “founder” of LMSfc’s booster squad, the Spark Squad (SS), the opportunity to set up and prepare for the match. Compared to last week, they had more paraphernalia, which they all made by themselves. They all specially did and bought everything – the flags, clappers, flaglets, banners, etc. – out of love for LMSFC. I must say I admire their dedication. I do not think I have reached the level of devotion, especially that of the sister’s, for any idol of mine before. (I will write more about this topic next time.) Cheers to the cheerers!
Amazingly, time flew faster for me this time around. The game suddenly was on its second half; before I knew it, Pasargad FC (1-0) was the celebrated winner. By 4:00 p.m., the bleachers were filled with enthusiastic supporters. At this time too, the SS was making last-minute preparations – distributing stuff, notifying and reminding people about their cheers, and taking in as much oxygen as they could before the action kicked off.
It was almost 4:30pm and as I had told my friend earlier, I would only stay for the first match, but she requested that I go watch at least the first half. If I would watch the first half, I thought, then I might as well stay and go through the entire match. Since I wanted to be “irresponsible” for that day, I thought, what the heck, why not just make it all the way? Iresponsable na kung iresponsable! Besides, tension and excitement were detectable in the air. The whole event somehow also intrigued me eventually.
As I am a useless source of the game details of the LMSFC – KFC match, I suggest you go read this interaksyon article or this one from pinoyfootball.com. I will however, share my own highlights, observations, and insights about the whole event itself.
- 1. Unlike the games last May 05 wherein LMSFC was able to score a goal 10 minutes into the start of the game, this time, the team was only able to do so after Kaya had scored at the 21st minute. There were many instances wherein LMSFC could have scored afterwards but their efforts were thwarted by KFC’s goalkeeper, Saba Sedigh.
- I almost had a blooper when Kaya first scored a goal. I got a bit excited that a team finally scored that I almost clapped! (Remember, though I was literally at the LMSFC’s side, I remained an objective spectator – not trying to appreciate just one team, but the whole sport itself.) Good thing I was able to control myself, because if not, I would have probably gained the ire of the Sparks’ fans!
- The Spark Squad was comparatively better – more solid and alive that day. They cheered from the moment the game started until it ended. More importantly, they cheered on at a time when their voices were mostly needed – when the LMSFC was losing morale.
- Actress Angel Locsin was present. And we all know who she was rooting for!
- The entrance of Aly Borromeo at the latter part of the second half was dramatic. He brought a different energy to the whole event. I could almost hear an orchestra announcing his arrival to the field.
- Misagh Bahadoran approached the LMSFC side of the bleachers and chatted with some of the fans. I whispered to my friend, “He’s Hollywood, right??” slightly recognizing his face from a sports article I had read some days back. Surprise was written all over my friend’s face, “How did you know?!” she asked. She could not believe I “knew” him and that I would even use his nickname to refer to him. Well, it was easier to remember his nickname rather than his real name, I told her. (I could not believe it either – me, reading a sports article!)
- There were moments in the match when the LMSFC fans stood up because of their excitement, and I found myself standing up with them. Later on, I realized that I was still standing up when most of them had already sat down. Uy, nagiging involved na!
- Sometimes just when you think everything is lost, something will happen to turn it all around. The 90-minute game was given four more minutes as an extension, and it was at the 94th minute that James Younghusband was able to prove that not all was lost. The game ended with a draw: 2-2.
- After the games, several LMSFC players granted the cheering squad’s request for a photo session at the bleachers. Since I do not know all of them, I could only enumerate a few which included Gabi Borja, Davide Cortina, James Younghusband, and Anto Gonzales.
Although I had a better experience this time around, it was not enough to convert me. Sports, I have realized is hard to appreciate unless it has been inculcated in you from a very early age. It is all about rules, technicality, and skills. You have to have a degree of appreciation for such things. Unlike music, for example, once you hear a song with lyrics to which you can relate, rhythm and beats with which you can bob your head along, or a melody which you can hum, it easily finds a space either in your heart or in your mind; it creates an instant connection to your soul. It is easier to find people who like music than people who like sports. Sports involves a lot of observation before you can really say that one team or an athlete is good. You have to establish patterns, watch a lot of their matches, study their moves, etc. You cannot just watch one game and say that, “Ah, this team is good.” And you cannot definitely support a team just because their members are good-looking (but that happens!) With music, let someone listen to a really good song and one can easily conclude that it is areally good track. Music is more easily relatable regardless of the genre. Sports, on the other hand, is much more complex. But that’s just me.
In the end, every passion – whether it may be music, film, sports, arts, culinary, literature, etc. – is better when it starts earlier. However, like the old adage goes: “It’s never too late to start to learn the piano.” Or in my case, “It’s never too late to start to love sports.”
All images are courtesy of interaksyon.com unless otherwise specified. To view more photos of the LMSFC-KFC match last May 12, 2012, visit this interaksyon gallery.
For UFL schedules and venues, please visit ufl philippines.