Basketball versus Football in the Philippines: No Contest?

The American influence is omnipresent in the Philippines. Not surprising given the archipelago’s history.

My brief today is to chat about sport. In particular my love of football – the kind you play with a round ball – you know the one Americans call soccer (sawwker) – only teasing.

A full football stadium

A full football stadium

Basketball is the king here in the Philippines. Everyone has their favorite team and often wear basketball shirts and shorts. I love basketball too. In fact I played a lot when I was in college. I loved the silky feel to the uniform and the fact all the girls used to turn out to watch us play!

But hey I’m 6’3” so a natural fit for the game. You don’t see many under six footers in the NBA. That is why I am curious about the love for the game here. You don’t get to see too many Filipinos over six feet tall. I am not detracting from their love for the game or their ability to play it. I guess I am saying that for stature reasons their chances of making it to the NBA are negligible. In fact I believe that no Filipino has gone on to play in the highest and most well paid form of the game.

Maybe the Americans left here too soon? If they had delayed then would Filipinos have benefited from the explosion of soccer that happened in the USA over the past 20 years?

So okay – basketball versus football in the Philippines. Please read on ….

Both games require little money to play. In both all you need is a round ball.  You don’t even need goals and nets to play football. As kids we used to drop a coat on the ground to mark where the goal posts where. Of course that caused many an argument as to whether the ball had gone under (a goal) or over (no goal) the imaginary crossbar. It’s a little difficult to imagine basketball being played without a hoop! But the major difference is this: to be a top pro in basketball’s NBA the chances are you have to be tall.

The beauty and the appeal of football is that anyone of any size or shape can play. Some of the best football players on the planet have been diminutive in stature. Think of Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona for example. Or Luis Suarez, also of Barcelona and once of Liverpool, also springs to mind.  In fact being small can be a definite advantage in football. The small guy (or woman as womens football is really big now) has a low center of gravity meaning he can swerve and change direction at speed leaving the big clumsy defenders in his slipstream.

The potential for future stars of say the English Premier League are here. I saw a street kid in Bacolod recently. He was playing with a piece of plastic like it was a make believe football. I tell you it was a sight to behold the tricks that kid could do. Flicking the object from foot to foot and then to his head and back to his feet. Great skill!

I firmly believe the European professional leagues could mine a goldfield here in nurturing potential stars of the future.

In fact I must write to my team – Liverpool Football Club – and suggest they explore setting up an academy here in the Philippines.

The benefits would be enormous not only to Liverpool but also in developing future stars to play for the Azkals. Now there is a thought! The Philippines national team in the FIFA World Cup Finals in 20 years from now.

Talking about LFC,  my team, reminds me I need to tune in to the TV as the English Premier League season kicked off again this weekend.

YNWA (You’ll Never Walk Alone – the anthem of LFC fans the world over)

Football Stadium Photo Credit
photo credit: Audi of America Welcomes Manchester United via photopin (license)
Feature Photo Credit
photo credit: Gol do Zidane – AFP via photopin (license)