World Cup Watch

The ongoing FIFA 2006 Soccer World Cup in Germany has brought back good memories of my childhood.

Football, or soccer, as most people call the game, is one of my favorite sports.

I’ve been hooked on it since I was a kid. When I was in gradeschool, we used to play it during recess and lunch breaks in any one of (then) Don Bosco Pampanga’s three football fields. I was even a member of the school’s varsity team at the time. Although I wasn’t the star player of the team, I could pretty much hold my own.

Before basketball’s popularity took over the sporting scene in the country, there was a popular school saying that went: “Hindi ka Bosconian kapag hindi ka marunong mag football.” — “You’re not a Bosconian if you don’t know how to play football.” — which I took to heart.

And being a Bosconian had an influence in my choice of soccer teams. Since St. John Bosco, and the Salesian order, came from Italy, it was but natural for the Italian Salesian priests, and most Bosconians, to root for Italy, the Azzurri.

And my stint as a player soon allowed me to study and follow the soccer world in detail. Which led me to discover the legend that was, and is, Pele, who became my sporting idol. This again led me to pick up another favorite team, the mighty Seleção, the Brazilians.

I have my list of favorite professional clubs too. On the top of the list is Ajax of Amsterdam. Then there’s Real Madrid, Manchester United and Juventus.

Going back to the World Cup, now that both Italy and Brazil made it to the next round, I hope that either one of them wins it all. Although it could be a rough road to the finals with the powerful Argentines and the inspired Germans.

Should neither team make it to the finals, which I hope not, then it’s still fine with me, as long as the sport that is so dear to my heart will reach and inspire the world’s people from all walks of life, and most especially the youngsters.

When that happens, then old coconuts, cloth-filled socks, makeshift cardboard shin pads, and empty lots would have served their purpose-filled days showered with children’s laughter, soaking up some rain, or basking in the sun.

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