Destination Brazil: Six Green Booters fulfill dreams in once-in-a-lifetime experience
Published on July 4th, 2014 | by Victoria Chang
Last month, Chuck Uy, Jhoguev Ybanez, Jojo Borromeo, Nace Gonzales, Paeng de Guzman, and Noel Brago, all of whom are members of the DLSU Green Booters, clinched their tickets to Brazil in winning the Kia Champ Into The Arena Tournament. Their conquest made them representatives of the Philippines in an outdoor futsal tournament sponsored by Korean car makers Kia, the official automobile sponsor of the 2014 Brazil FIFA World Cup.
Road to Brazil
Uy, one of La Salle’s proficient scorers in the UAAP, said the win was “unexpected,” as they were “second best” in the group stages.
The Green Booters experienced their lone defeat in their match against the Philippine Air Force contingent with a 3-1 scoreline. Playing without high expectations, the Green Booters were expecting a solid finish. Nonetheless, the green of La Salle rubbed off the Irish luck to help the boys go all the way and win it all.
The tournament began with a grouping of teams playing in a round-robin format. The top two teams per group will then advance to the knockout rounds, mirroring the World Cup. In the quarterfinals, their tormentors, Philippine Air Force, were eliminated by their arch rivals Ateneo. The Green Booters subsequently faced and defeated Team Superbad, composed of La Salle alumni which included their very own coach, Alvin Ocampo, during the semi-finals, 7-2. The team relied not only on teamwork but also on proper tactics such as specific players to guard.
The traditional rivals of green and blue went on to forge an exhilarating final. The Green Booters, having a more comfortable route, exposed the Ateneans early on by leading 4-0 at halftime. Ateneo tried to even things out in the second half but the La Salle players held onto their lead to end of the finals and bag top honors, 5-3.
Not only do they get to be titleholders of the Kia football tournament for they are awarded a tremendous opportunity to represent the Philippines in the global edition of Kia’s tournament. The team did not foresee their triumph. Instead, they took the games astride by playing the games passionately as they came. As a result, the team will fly to the other side of the world carrying the Philippine flag with pride. Another privilege gifted to them is watching a FIFA World Cup quarterfinals match at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador where the Netherlands and Costa Rica are set to play.
Gonzales likes this opportunity a lot because the whole thing is staged in Brazil, a football-mad country which also boasts the most World Cup championships with five. “(It is an) amazing opportunity to go to Brazil to watch a world cup game and to play a tournament in the country where football is treated as a religion,” furthered Gonzales who enthusiastically affirms this experience as one of the best in his life.
Excited to compete and enjoy
Football fans themselves, this bunch of footballers fancy seeing their idols in action. They idolize legendary players such as Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Angel di Maria, Italy’s Andrea Pirlo, Spain’s Iker Casillas and Andres Iniesta, and England’s Steven Gerrard.
Liverpool fan Uy and Madridista Borromeo admire the Netherlands’ chances and wishes the ‘Oranje’ to eliminate Mexico for them to support the Dutch, who just like the Philippines are yet to win the World Cup, live during the team’s upcoming visit to Brazil.
Meanwhile, Gonzales thinks the Germans will prevail for the fourth time in history. Sadly for de Guzman, his admired La Furia Roja failed to defend their World Cup title following early elimination.
Regarding the global tournament, the Green Booters are hoping to learn a lot in preparation for their upcoming UAAP Season 77 campaign.
Undoubtedly, the progress of Philippine football has been immense following the 2010 emergence of the Azkals. Uy thinks that given proper training and financial support, the Philippines may be in the world’s biggest stage sooner rather than later.