The United Football League (UFL) season just started last weekend, and for a lot of people, it will serve as some sort of introductory season to Philippine football. After all, it’s the first time that regular league matches will be shown on TV; and unlike the recently-concluded UFL Cup, there will be more matches to look forward to in the next few months.
Since there are more matches to watch, it’s also the perfect time to pick a team to support - the football experience won’t be complete if you’re not rooting for a team. If you’re still undecided, here are three tips to help you choose:
1. Pick your favorite Azkal and cheer for their UFL team. As many of AKTV’s ads suggest, if you got into football because of the Azkals, then you must watch the cup or league matches that they participate in. Good examples would be Ian Araneta and Chieffy Caligdong for Air Force, or Aly Borromeo and Anton Del Rosario for Kaya FC.
Choosing a team because of the players isn’t something new, as well - it has also happened with English Premier League (EPL) teams like Manchester United and rivals Manchester City. According to this article
, United’s televised matches started to draw crowds in Mexico after they signed Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez. Meanwhile, a video on the official Manchester City YouTube channel
features Bosnian fans that started supporting the club because of striker Edin Dzeko.
2. Be proud of your hometown. Football clubs in many parts of the world have been founded by players usually coming from one area, and as such, are named after the town or city they’re based in. And while the globalized nature of the sport has resulted in the bigger clubs having more overseas fans (as seen in the earlier examples), hometown fans are still important, especially for smaller clubs.
Since the UFL is still just a few years old and is small compared to other international leagues, clubs based in different parts of the Philippines will need that support. Examples of hometown clubs are Stallions FC from Iloilo and Cebu Queen City United. While I see some Ilonggo fans expressing support for Stallions on Facebook, it would be nice to see a bigger fan base in the future. Same for the Cebuano side.
Besides, we Filipinos are already familiar with the concept of hometown support - just watch any beauty or talent contest and you’d hear people cheering on a contestant simply because they came from the same province. Why not bring that support to football, right?
3. Support your school. UAAP football isn’t the only venue where you can cheer for your school, though it’s a good starting point. Several UFL teams have their roots in UAAP varsity teams, such as Diliman FC, Loyola Meralco Sparks FC (formerly Loyola Agila FC) and Green Archers United. These teams were founded by former players from the University of the Philippines, the Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University respectively.
Choosing a school-based UFL side can also boost football’s popularity in the country, especially considering the amount of support that some UAAP sports get from their alumni. Examples include basketball (such as the legendary Ateneo-La Salle rivalry) or even cheerdance (the UP Pep Squad won Interaksyon's Team of the Year
award by a landslide vote).
In the end, whatever reason you may have to support a specific team, it all boils down to how passionate you are about the team and the sport. Passionate fans won’t just help football progress in the country - it’s also a big factor in making football the beautiful game.CB