Freeman Cebu Sports


WRECKORDER - FGS Gujilde - The Freeman

Out of nowhere, the Philippine team of 11-year-old football players from Negros kicked out their taller and bigger foes to win an international tournament in Spain. Their head coach however focused on what fueled his wards to kick hard and aspire big – gutom factor.

The 12 kids all come from poor families, hungry to better their lives and brighten their future through football. Most likely, these children witness how their parents agonize to find the next meal while other kids whine to dine and whose problem is inconvenience, not survival. Why the hungry is not yet angry is due largely to resilience. Otherwise known as acquiescence. Since they know exactly how it is to have nothing, they toil to have something while other kids are not content with everything.

Their triumph reaffirms the nagging reality that basketball is not meant for a short people with shorter memory. This is not body shaming, but mind shaking to awaken the forgetful from the nightmare of basketball frustration to the reality of greater potential in other sports they are better suited to excel in. Football is one of them, where height is not an advantage. Quickness is. And agility is more associated with players short on height but tall on might.

But then basketball is the country’s choice. No one argues with passion, no matter how misplaced. Entertainment too, no matter how stupid, more so during elections. Of course there is a glimmer of hope for basketball supremacy, especially after the marvelous team reclaimed the Asiad basketball gold. But only in the largest continent in the world, where the towering African-Americans and Europeans are neither around nor abound. Reality check.

This despite Kai Sotto, the country’s beacon of hope for representation in the world premiere basketball league. A long shot. It can never be achieved via shortcut. Trust the process, but expect rejection, to which this generation is not prepared for. This football team is an exception. Beyond the grit and determination their coach saw in their face and movement are their hungry eyes.

They not only defied the height and size of their opponents, but also hurdled color and language barrier. These must have intimidated the diminutive public school students who grew up being told their brown color is inferior to the white race. Ironically, they are also taught brown is superior to black. Those discriminated against also discriminate against the shorter, smaller and darker. Disparity is one thing, diversity is another. Bullying is about power, but only against the powerless. Look at the Philippine seas.

Just like us, these kids were also taught inability to speak the English language makes them less smart. Or worse, less human. Language proficiency is just one domain of intelligence. Just as athleticism is. These kids have spoken not with their tongue that may lie, but by their legs that spread the reality that never dies, revisionism aside. The truth, indeed, is not spoken by incidents of speech but by incidence of excellence.

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