The Football Fangirl’s Musings on the 3rd Clear Dream Match

Whenever I think of the Clear Dream Match, I always remember soggy pitches, balls that refuse to move beyond two feet, grass-and-mud-stained socks (Daniel Matsunaga had the cleanest socks in the first edition of the Clear Dream Match, which just means… OK, I will leave it up to you to make your own conclusions), high risks of injury, and what every fangirl notices—wet shirts and shorts clinging to players’ bodies tighter than Reynolds wrap.

The other aspect of the Clear Dream Match that is appearing to be consistent would have to be how either Younghusband brother approaches the match each year. Recent history will allow you to recall that James went all out in attack in choosing his players two years back, while Phil opted to shore up his defense and midfield. Cut to last year, and you saw James take a page out of his brother’s book, while retaining the same firepower in attack. Phil retained the same formula that made him win the first time, only to have the results reversed.

I read somewhere that this year’s Clear Dream Match would be the finale, and I’m assuming this is to break the draw and settle the score. When I look at the team rosters, whether they are formed by design or by luck of the draw, it seems to me that the brothers’ selection philosophies continue to apply for this year.

James has got multiple attacking options in OJ Porteria, Misagh Bahadoran, and Izzo Elhabbib (and possibly manong Chieffy Caligdong, on the assumption that he is 100% fit to play, and OK, fine, co-captain Nate Burkey, who, in the game vs. Malaysia showed some badly missed moments of brilliance—the kind that I haven’t seen since his debut for the Azkals). On defense, he’s pretty solid with Joaco Cañas and Anton del Rosario holding fort.

On the flipside, we got Phil’s team, who has got some teeth in the midfield with Chris Greatwich, Mark Hartmann, and Anto Gonzales at his disposal. He’s also got two capable fullbacks in Matthew Hartmann and Simone Rota, and then there’s also Ruben Doctora and Tating Pasilan who can both be deadly to opponents. He’s also got Ryan Fenix’s younger brother and doppelganger, Patrick Deyto, on goal.

Even without factoring Paul Scholes and Andy Cole into either line-up, this makes for some pretty interesting football. In terms of the player selection, it would have also been nice if they considered the players who made an impact in previous editions of the Clear Dream Match. Saba Garmaroudi comes to mind—he was the hero of the first edition, playing goalkeeper for Team Phil. His impact was so much so that James had to snap him as top pick last year—and he turned up some big saves to deny Team Phil with more scoring chances. I’m hazarding a guess he wasn’t even on the voting pool since he no longer plays Division 1 football in the UFL.

That said, the bigger challenge, I find, in the third edition of the Clear Dream Match is the lack of the rivalry narrative. James and Phil squaring off against each other is just as adorable as two puppies wrestling each other, really. You can only stretch the sibling rivalry narrative for so long. We all know they love each other, and we love them.

James and Phil with the Trophy


See, aren’t they so adorbs?

As for the celebrity football players being brought in—we know for a fact the Younghusbands are Manchester United fans, so they must be tingling in delight at the prospect of playing alongside either Paul Scholes or Andy Cole. That said, wouldn’t it have made for greater drama if one player came from a rival of Manchester United? Maybe I am viewing this with my own biases, but really—they should have thought of bringing a Liverpool or Manchester City, or even an Arsenal player (Robbie Fowler is a regular among Asian countries, just saying).

Or while we’re on the subject of Manchester United, maybe they should just bring in Shinji Kagawa? Poor guy has languished in the United bench for so long. Or David Moyes, because he would need a coaching job in the interim, right? Or how about Juan Mata, because—fangirls? Or just bring in Manchester United’s golden boy from last decade (and the ultimate Clear endorser), Cristiano Ronaldo? (I’m willing to wager that whatever investment it will take, there will be significant ROI.)

I kid, I kid.

The stage has been set for what has been touted to be the most exciting Clear Dream Match yet on June 7, 2014. Heaven forbid the University of Makati pitch will be another swampland that evening.


Fields of Dreams and For This Younghusband, A Vision for the Future

Originally posted in Pinoyfootball.

If further proof was needed to substantiate the claim that football in the Philippines was here to stay, it is the fact that Chelsea FC, one of England’s top-flight football clubs, has partnered with Phil and James Younghusband’s The Younghusband Football Academy (TYFA) to open a soccer school in the country.

While the official launch of the Chelsea Soccer School is still on May 15, Chelsea FC Soccer School summer camps for boys and girls, implemented by TYFA, will begin this April.

Paul Kam, Chairman of ProEvents, which handles Chelsea’s events and activities in Asia and which has had business relations with the club since 1995, shared that this initiative is part of Chelsea’s “Here to Play, Here to Stay” campaign. This campaign is testament to Chelsea’s continued engagement with its supporters throughout Asia, as well as its commitment to developing football in the region.

A key component of the “Here to Play, Here to Stay” campaign is Blue Pitch, jointly implemented by Chelsea and ProEvents, which is the club’s grassroots football development in Asia. As its name suggests, Blue Pitch is an artificial blue turf intended to provide opportunities for children to play football, in partnership with local entities and Chelsea’s football coaches.

“In 2008, when my company handled Chelsea’s Asia Tour, we asked what legacy program could be introduced to the countries that Chelsea visited,” shared Kam, pointing out that youth development was the apparent answer.

“I’m very happy to have the brothers support this and have the Blue Pitch in the Philippines,” he added. “This is a very unique partnership for us.” Kam also shared that there would be about six to seven Blue Pitches in Asia by next year, and this could give birth to other activities such as football exchange programs and tournaments for children.

For their part, the Younghusband brothers expressed gratitude for being approached by Chelsea for such an opportunity.

“We’re over the moon, and we’re excited for the future of football,” remarked Phil Younghusband at the press conference announcing the establishment of the Chelsea FC Soccer School. “It is a milestone for Philippine football, but hopefully, this is the start of something promising and exciting.” He added that in their experience with the Chelsea academy, the club not only teaches kids to be good football players, but to be good people as well.

Meanwhile, James Younghusband revealed more than just gratitude at the prospects of even doing more for Philippine football.

“Me and my brother, we’ve had our ups and downs in the Philippines when it comes to football,” James candidly revealed. “But this (Chelsea FC Soccer School) is a big step for Philippine football, and we’re really proud to be part of it. We really want to help young kids to go onto achieving great things for the country through football.”

At the sides of the press conference, James further expounded on his thoughts. “Football has changed a lot since we first came to the Philippines,” he continued. “We wanted to get involved with the national team, and that was our way of promoting the sport. It worked out quite well in the end with the Azkals. Obviously, the interest increased, and we had a lot of people wanting to get involved.”

“But then, you have to think about the opportunity. Is there a place for players to play?” he said. “We want to bring the artificial turf concept here and give the kids a place to play at. That’s the way the Philippines can improve.”

“Each kid, when they start off, they have the same ability as the kids in Europe,” he pointed out. “But the kids in Europe play more football. That’s what we want to do here.”

When asked if this partnership between TYFA and Chelsea FC felt like a full circle of sorts, James flashed that trademark lopsided boyish grin of his and agreed, going on to reveal his dream for grassroots football development in the country: “My dream is to have a football facility everywhere in the Philippines—the capital, the north, the south. We don’t want to limit it to Manila, we want to go out to the provinces.”

It isn’t far-fetched to think that Chelsea’s Blue Pitches may just find the next top-flight right winger for the Azkals, and as for James Younghusband, he would probably be all too satisfied to have been a part of finding and developing the Philippines’ next generation of football heroes.