Official Opening of Drop in Center and Payatas FC 1st Year Anniversary

This is the exciting update for the Fair Play for All Foundation. Just a couple months ago, the foundation celebrated their one year anniversary. The celebration included the long awaited official opening of the new drop in center located in the heart of Payatas and home to Payatas FC and the FFA.

I was honored to be given the opportunity to experience and be apart of the opening ceremony. Much like opening ceremonies in businesses and companies, the day represented the official start to a new beginning and a true first step forward. Though Roy and Naomi’s hard work, dedication and persistence had started long before the opening, this day was a special moment to everyone involved. It signified the birth date of their vision already in motion and their mission already making progress.

For me, it was a true privilege to experience the day that included an award ceremony for the players of Payatas FC for their performance and commitment to the sport and to their team. The feeling of camaraderie and teamwork that united an entire community truly filled every moment. It was also nice to play in a little friendly match between myself teamed up with Nate Burkey versus the Payatas FC kids. We even lost to little developing players, who displayed wonderful skills and fierce determination.

The ribbon cutting for me truly made me feel a sense of pride and appreciation for what Roy and Naomi have done. It made me realize their willingness to share such a significant day with others. They reminded me that such a momentous ceremony for the drop in center was just a small piece to the work they do. It showed us all that the center will remain only a physical structure that is incomparable to its meaning. To them both, the kids of Payatas, and the entire community the safety, the education and the care they provide will remain at the very core, and no ceremony can ever outshine their sweat and tears poured into their work.

Check out the Fair Play For All Foundations News Letter below and Stay connected with all that is going on with their organization.

At the moment Naomi Tomlinson has been nominated for the UK’s “Charity Women of the Year” Award for her work with Tripple E, the Fair Play For All Foundation and Payatas FC. Please stayed tuned for more on her amazing journey.

For the latest updates on Naomi and Roy please visit their blogs for upcoming events, volunteer opportunities and ways to support the FFA. – Lexton Moy on Azkals’ steep climb in Nepal

by LEXTON MOY Posted on 03/29/2012 12:42 PM
In February of 2011, the Philippine National Football team started their quest to conquer the 2012 Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup.What was once glorious dreams of making it to the actual tournament held this year in Nepal were met with demanding tasks.Tackling Mongolia was first on the agenda to a long uphill climb.After the two game victory by aggregate, the team found themselves in a tough qualifying group alongside Palestine, Bangladesh, and  Myanmar.Following a second place finish in the group qualifying stages, the team was in a spot in the AFC tournament.

With five matches invested in the goal for gold and a ticket to Nepal, the chance to fight for a slot on the podium was one step closer but yet so far.

The big challenge was finally met in Nepal, when the team was placed in what was coined the “group of death” left to battle it out with Tajikistan, India and defending AFC Challenge Cup champions, North Korea.

This long road prior to us landing in Nepal was a very difficult task for a developing team looking to make a name for the country in the world’s sport.

Personal journey

Prior to joining the team, I had an idea of the sacrifices and the hard work devoted to the goal — but nothing would prepare me for what I would learn and experience on such a personal journey.

It still inspires me to learn about the many steps the country has taken in the right direction when it comes to football. Hearing stories and meeting people who have been involved in this process for decades really enhances my appreciation for the efforts of individuals and groups who have dedicated their lives to a sport they believe in.

So, reaching the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup tournament is a true testament to not only the current squad, but to everyone who had paved the way for a new generation of hope.

With a strong gratitude for the past, confidence in ourselves and with a hopeful vision for the future, we embarked on a Nepalese journey that would rewrite the history books for Philippines football.

Prior to landing in Nepal, preparations took us through a tour of Dubai and back, playing Olympic contenders Australia and Uzbekistan.

Though we expected the difficulties presented in this Challenge Cup, we were nonetheless in high spirits and our optimism pushed us forward.

Nepal challenges

Arriving in Nepal felt like landing at our first base camp on our vertical ascent.

Being there days before the competition really gave us an advantage, as it took us time to get acclimated to altitude. Although we knew about the weather report and geographical location in our destination, most were unprepared for the conditions.

The bitter cold that haunted us even in our hotel rooms had to be combated with multiple blankets and electric heat lamps.

The constant power outages and frequent hot water shortages had to be endured with the most humbling acceptance.

The simple accommodations for our first week truly made us appreciate the things in life that aren’t always readily available to others.

It made us more grateful, it made us more hungry and determined to succeed, and most of all it brought us closer together.

The trip felt like a long outdoor adventure with a massive football objective at the top of a tall mountain.

Rewriting history

On our quest to reach the golden peak and a spot on the podium, we first had to conquer the group stages and make it to our next base camp: the playoffs.

Having lost to current champions North Korea 2-0, we knew we still had a chance to reach that next step, if only we could gain results against India and Tajikistan.

Our sights were fixed on breaking through the group stages and our focus remained on tackling one team at a time, first beating India 2-0 followed by a jubilant victory over Tajikistan.

By making it past the group stage and into the next round, we not only found ourselves rewriting the history books of Philippine football, but we discovered that we were the only team to ever start from the pre-qualifications, that made it through the qualifying group stages and succeeded to the playoffs — in contention for a medal.

As our summit to the top opened new opportunities for the team and new heights for the country, we were invigorated with a breath of fresh air and new life in the tournament.

Our focal point transitioned to the semifinals to which we were set to face Turkmenistan. Beating them would have meant we were guaranteed a silver finish if not the gold. Losing would have meant we had to battle it out for the bronze.

For everyone, such calculations came secondary to our drive to win.

The goal going into the tournament was to take each game to the fullest, to fight for the recognition, and to play for the pride of the country, so settling for less was not an option.

Fighting for bronze

Unfortunately, performance showed us a heartbreaking defeat in the last minutes of the Turkmenistan match and we found ourselves with a slightly shorter mountain to climb.

What was a gorgeous gold summit with a silver lining in sight quickly turned into a grueling fight to reach a bronze peak.

Nonetheless, with everything to fight for, we exchanged blows with Palestine for ninety minutes. When the final whistle blew we found ourselves with a successful third place finish beating Palestine 4-3.

We had reached the pinnacle in our journey and finally reached the highest point in our expedition.

Standing at the top of our bronze mountain, I couldn’t help but revisit the road it took to get there.

Our success in the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup was much like the goal of climbing Everest as its accomplishments are attributed to the collective contribution and influences of many people, numerous events, various good fortunes, and countless misfortunes.

Dared to dream

Although we ended short of our original goal, we made it farther than most expected. This journey could not have been possible if it weren’t for all the players, staff, administration that came before us who started the voyage decades ago.

Our existence would not be fully appreciated without the recognition of loyal supporters who carried the weight from the very beginning.

Our experience would not be complete without those who opposed the team, only to reinforce it by uniting our will to succeed.

Most of all, none of this would have been possible if it weren’t for those who dared to dream the possibilities.

We are only the lucky few who had the chance to represent the country at this moment in time.

We remain a small piece of the continuing puzzle that is deeply routed in a developing country and I will forever be grateful for such an opportunity driven by the hope, dreams and pride of a growing football nation.

This experience is an example of an underdog’s journey that will forever remind us of the values consistent with small successes and the incredible path that takes us there.

From the base of a tall mountain of oppositions and challenges, I am happy to experience a continual upward climb, so that one day, we may all find ourselves in more established football prominence, never to forget where we started. –

Lexton Moy is a member of the Azkals, the men’s Philippine football team. Please visit for more from Lexton Moy. Follow him on Twitter @LextonMoy.

Back From Another Country to Reunite with Club

After a long trip to Dubai and Qatar with the National Team, we returned to the Philippines to rejoin our clubs efforts in taking on the UFL League. Jason Sabio, Joshua Beloya and myself landed late Friday night with a couple things on our minds. With a 8 hour flight behind us, the main focus was rest and recuperation, but more importantly we had a very crucial Kaya FC match to concentrate on.

Not having been with Kaya FC for 10 days, took its toll on me and the rest of my Kaya teammates on the road. Focusing on the national team was primary in our effects against two very strong international friendly against Australia’s and Uzbekistan’s U23 Olympic squads, along with a competitive game against Qatar’s Al Ahli Club. At the same time, we knew we were missing some crucial training sessions with our own club. After our defeat against Loyola 2 weeks back, our mission was to get back on track and gain a result against Pasagard. Leaving no team in the league underestimated, we knew we had to come out strong against the new team. Pasagard had surprised the league with a draw against first place team Stallions, so preparations for a defensive styled opponent was implemented.

Having just a short nights rest, the Saturdays match-up with Pasagard came upon us in no time. I was happy to reunite with my club and my teammates. They seem to be in very high spirits as we haven’t had a match since the Loyola game,  and training seemed to have been going well. They felt strong and ready for a nice afternoon game. I too was ready to see the pitch as limited playing time with the national team made me hungry from some time. Knowing that my playing time would further be limited in the Pasagard match due to our absence, I patiently supported the team from the sidelines to take in our performance.

All in all, I was glad to have come in late in the game, contribute and really reincorporate myself on a team that has been working extremely hard while I was away.  It was particularly nice to see different players used in different positions and to see some of the progress the team has made. Although there is still plenty of things we need to work on, it was nice to see an different perspective of our game and really refocus on the things we still need to improve on. Most of all, just being back gets me really excited to rejoin our squad and get back to working hard.

Kaya FC beat Pasagard in our 5th match of the 2012 UFL Season.

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Falling Short of a Turn Around Rematch

In the 2011 UFL Cup, Kaya FC faced Loyala Meralco Sparks in the Cup Semifinals for the first time since the revival of the UFL. With each team riding high on the wave of the football boom in the Philippines and recruiting big named players to the league, both have ramped up for the intense competition. Up until the semifinal rounds, the Loyola-Kaya match-up was one of the most anticipated games, as Loyola boasted Phil and James Younghusband, and Mark and Mathew Hartman. On the other hand, Kaya FC had our own set of National team players including Aly Borromeo, Anton Del Rosario, Jason Sabio, Nate Burkey and myself. Off the field, between the players that match was jokingly coined a “match between the Brit’s and the Americans.”

Until this day, it can easily be said that the game between Kaya FC and Loyola was the most exciting match to watch in 2011. With a comfortable 3-0 lead at half time, Kaya had the sure advantage moving into the second half, only to find a reluctant Loyola narrowing the gap and eventually stealing the game in a high scoring 5-4 victory.

This seemingly impossible comeback surely set the stage for Kaya FC and Loyola’s second match-up. This time, in the UFL League, as the first round of games commenced in a double round robin format, the two teams faced each other, in what was described as an “epic rematch” of the 2012 season. The outcome last time, was a triumphant underdog fight for Loyola to tie the match up and to finally take the win. For Kaya FC it was a bitter snowballing of unfortunate events that lead to a mega loss of the match and a potential cup title. This time with much at stake, Loyola fighting to maintain their win, and for Kaya to recapture the victory they had in their hands in the prior game.

Disappointing to say, Kaya fell short yet again against the orange Sparks. Much can be said about both teams performances, whether or not things could have been done or should have been done, and speculations can be made about all aspects of the match. The truth is before we start analyzing everything, I will use this time to reflect on my own performance and be accountable for the things I had control over.

Upon reflecting on my sub-par performance, I really have to reanalyze all of the controllable factors leading up to and during the match. We as professionals always say “Control the Controllable’s” and forget about everything else. By this we mean: Do what you need to do to best prepare you for the results you seek. For peak performance, it means preparing everything in your immediate control that will directly impact your effectiveness and efficiency.  Despite feeling great at the start of the match, it’s tough to say that after being fouled early in the game, the nagging physical nuisance pulled me mentally into a different state for the rest of the match, and it was quite evident that my “efficiency and effectiveness” suffered.

We can’t control the ref’s, we can’t control what others choose to do or not do, and we can’t control hard tackles by others, but what we can control is how we deal with these factors. Unfortunately, I was unable to physically and mentally overcome the “uncontrollable factors” presented to me in the match and furthermore I failed to take ownership over the controllable ones that would have dictated a positive performance.

All too often, it is hard for people to look past the “uncontrollable’s” and extreme focus is marginalized to excuses and blame. Being accountable and responsible for your own performance is key in moving forward and excelling. I hope to use games like this to further propel me in the right direction. It is a harsh and stern reminder that the game is only physical to a certain point, controlled and limited by your mental capability.

We have to wait until the second round of the UFL League to face Loyola Meralco Sparks in our 3rd overall match-up. What seems to be light years away, we have even more to look forward to, as we seek  unfinished business.

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Kaya-Archer Match-up on the Eve of Chinese New Year

Yesterday marked the eve of Chinese New Year. As the day approached, I continued the tradition of cleaning the house and preparing for the New Year. With our Kaya FC vs Green Archers match to focus for, I was in the midst of thinking about family and home, and New Year preparations with the big game in the back of my mind. In many ways, the turn of the new year, really gave me an anchor and allowed me to feel grounded. Thinking about Chinatown, my home, my family and the things I was raised to do during this time of year, really made me feel quite homesick, but at the same it really allowed me to reflect and refocus the task as hand. In many ways, it gave me a chance to be reminded about where I came from and how lucky I am to have all the opportunities I have.

Chinese New Year has always had a more profound affect on me than our Western New Year. Though more celebrated and more mainstream, New Years for me has always been simply a celebration with friends and family signifying the passing of a New Year, with it’s attachments to resolutions and the Big Ball Drop countdown. On the other hand, Chinese New Year and the passing of the Lunar New Year has always signified a little more and has always impacted me just a little deeper, with it’s rich heritage and cultural traditions.

Perhaps I feel most connected with my family’s history and past time during Chinese New Year. Maybe it is the traditional preparations and celebrations that affect me that much more. Which ever it is, I know I miss the aromas, the music, and the colors of Chinese New Year at home. The cold whether in January the creeps in, the sounds of Chinatown amongst the back drop of New York City, the tourists that flood the streets, the excitement of people and children playing, the energy of the lion dance and the rhythms of the rolling drums, all remind me of a place I call home. There is never a place like home, and I am proud to call Chinatown New York City my home.

I am happy to say that although I am far away in a new country, I can still feel the roots of my heritage from across the world. It grounds me and it allows me to carry on with strength and relevance. I am proud to share my family traditions, my family dynamic and the values I have been raised on propel me to become better in all that I do.

Kaya FC ended the Chinese New Year’s Eve match-up versus Green Archer’s with a 3 point result from the 2-1 win. I scored my first 2 goals for my club. I hope this Chinese New Year brings you and your family much luck, good health and prosperity as it has brought me thus far.

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Playing Cup Champions: Philippines Airforce

Last night Kaya FC played Air force in the United Football League opening game. With the league ceremony and excitement level sky high prior to kickoff, our team seemed pretty focused and determined to play the defending League and UFL Cup Champions. For me, it was the first time we’ve faced any armed forces team in competition. During the Cup we seemingly missed the opportunity to play a whole handful of teams due to the Cup format, so facing Air force was most certainly a big game for us, let alone having to face them our very first match of the season.

Right of the bat, we came out strong, knowing that the Air force side would house a powerful squad and most importantly, display a cohesive game plan. We knew that their team work and unity from playing together would be one of their strengths and we set out to aggressively break that down with organized defending and sharp counter attacks. Early on we had clear chances at net, but only converted one goal. Despite the multiple open chances at goal, this lone goal would end up being the deciding factor of the match. The 1-0 win for us really doesn’t reflect our performance when creating goal scoring opportunities, but at the same time, it might shed some light on other parts of our game that we really need to improve on.

In any case, the result stands, and we’ll take a result in a match against arguably the strongest club in the Philippines. For me, playing against Air Force was a true privilege. They are most definitely the team to chase. There is much respect and appreciation for all the Air Force Players. As I mentioned before,  these guys defend the country off the field. Likewise the other armed forces teams really hold a place in the eyes and hearts of football fans. They are the country’s most respectable teams when it comes to national pride and local football accomplishment for decades now. I look forward to our second match-up with Air Force later this season.

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New Season-New Look: 2012 UFL League Opener

Moving through the Holidays and out the New year, there has been so much buzz around the 2012 United Football League. Today marks the opening ceremonies and the League opening match between two much talked about teams, Kaya FC and current UFL Cup Champions Air force.

Prior to this day, Kaya FC was in need for some regrouping after suffering a touch loses in the UFL Cup, first to Loyala Meralco Sparks in the Cup Semifinals, and then again to Global FC in the third place match, only to finish forth overall int he competition. After the short break, we are back in action to open the league in 2012 fashion and kick off what will be the exciting football season.

For me this game means a whole lot. We as people are always in favor of new starts and a fresh look. This is why we emphasize new years resolutions, makeovers, and transformations. We love to create and recreate ourselves and we love seeing others do it too. For Kaya FC I really feel that the chemistry between the unique characters we have on the team, with the coaching staff, right through the administration and the executives, have create a unity unlike other teams. I only hope that we can translate all of the hard work, dedication and comradery on the pitch and display true football performance. Our first big test will be this very first match against Air Force, who have been a dominant force throughout Philippines Football.

With a new look, new players and crucial changes made to the team, Kaya FC is set to face Air Force later on today. Check out our NEW Kaya FC Uniforms. Catch our new signings: Alu Kigbu (A.K) and Joshua Beloya. Be at the Game to see the new team in action.

United Football League 2012 Season League Opener: Kaya FC vs Air Force 4pm Rizal Memorial Stadium.

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Long Teng Cup: An Azkals’ Historical Relevance (Part 2)

Continuation from Long Teng Cup: An Azkals’ Historical Relevance (Part 1)

After years of playing with a unique group of Chinese players, my father and his friends had bonded over time and connected themselves to one another through a passion for soccer. This group was formed in a foreign country, in a far away place from home, by ethnicity, culture and love for the game. This brotherhood would soon find its way back to it roots in the years to come, reuniting with a past time through the very sport that brought them together.

In 1971, my father and a group of Chinese American immigrants from New York City’s Chinatown made a trip to Taiwan to play in their first overseas tournament. As the very first NY’s  Chinatown Chinese American team to travel back to Asia for a international friendly, it was a historical moment for Chinatown soccer having beat the ROC National Team 1-0.  For immigrants that found themselves in a new country with little cultural acceptance and a lot of ethnic segregation, this group of young Chinese Athletes bonded through a sport familiar only to foreign soil, as football was slowly being introduced to the American culture with the arrival of immigrants from around the world. This was a triumphant moment to return to familiar faces, family and friends, for they have found a commonality that allowed them to revisit Asia and reconnect with their past.

Rewind 40 years and here I am boarding a flight bond for Taiwan for my first tournament representing the Philippines National team. In many ways I look at my fathers trip to Taiwan as a very significant point in his life and for what it meant to the community of Chinatown and it’s significance to Chinese Football.

After graduating university, I carefully chose to travel to Hong Kong in hopes to play on a football team in the first division. I signed first professional contract with Tai Chung Football Club and played one season in a city my father grew up in. With a dual purpose and a open eye for learning and exploring more than just my football career, I sought out family roots and uncovered more about myself, my heritage and my identity.  My dream was to take the sport I loved and use that as a mode for exploration and a means for discovering my past, present and future.

Shortly after playing in Hong Kong I was informed that I could be eligible for trying out with the Philippines National team. At the time, little has crossed my mind about it, but as support for Filipino football spiked and national recruitment found its way towards me, I had to wonder if this opportunity could be my next step to exploring my Filipino side as I did my Chinese side through the very sport that made me.

With only a Filipino passport in hand and my friendship with Nate Burkey at heart, I arrived in the Philippines unannounced. I showed up for training camp and found my way onto the team. In the back of my mind, as I took this very crucial step of making the team, I knew the real journey can begin. To represent my mothers country in my profession, I was able to embark on a new journey in discovering where I came from and uncover the stories of my past, and how I came to be this Chinese-Filipino-American Footballer from Chinatown.

As we entered the stadium for our first match in the 2011 Long Teng Cup against none other than the Hong Kong Representative team, emotions ran high. To play against former teammate, opponents, and friends from my first Hong Kong season meant a rush of excitement and competitiveness. To know that my father had traveled to Taiwan with other Chinese immigrants that reunited with a cultural past and represented a new era in Chinese accomplishment in a new country meant a surge of pride and triumph. To listen to the Philippines National Anthem for the first time in official competition in a loud stadium the echoed proudly, meant I was able to contribute to the identity of my mothers country and attribute my own identity to her unconditional and supportive upbringing.

I am thankful for my cultural diversity and I will continue to dig deep into my heritage so that I may tell the story of what it means to be the Chinese-Filipino-American born and raised in New York City’s Chinatown that found football and found himself.

Long Teng Cup: An Azkals’ Historical Relevance (Part1)

Before I dive into the significance of the Long Teng Cup, I think it is important to uncover the history that brings us to this day in age where football has developed to its very critical turning point. To some people, this massive wave of Azkals frenzy might seem like an overnight explosion, and to others, I might seem like just a player that suddenly appeared from an unlikely place to find himself amidst all the commotion. It was not long ago that I realized my National Team edibility, and it was not long ago that I decided to take action and move to the Philippines. But to fully understand the meaning of playing my first games against Hong Kong, Taipei and Macau in the 2011 Long Teng Cup, it is important to rewind 40 years to reveal the soccer history in my life that make this very special experience relevant.

I was born and raised in Chinatown New York City to a Chinese father and a Filipina mother. I grew up in a predominantly Chinese household with my Chinese grandparent and my older sister. Introduced to the sport by my father at the age of 8, my soccer career started and was developed on the concrete courts of Chinatown.  What seemed to be just a fun time watching my father and his friends playing soccer on Sunday mornings, would later evolve into the sport that defines my life today.

My dad was born in China and after spending much of his childhood in Hong Kong, he immigrated to the United States. At the age of eleven, he found himself in a new country and a new home. This home was Chinatown. After several years of adapting to the new life, he was introduced to soccer at the late age of fourteen. New to the game and fresh to the turfs of the city, he was excepted into the soccer circles by taking on the responsibilities of equipment and balls. Much like a student to older mentors or an apprentice to teachers, he took on this role to learn this intriguing and exciting new game he was so interested in. With access to the balls, he was able to practice by himself, all the meanwhile watching, observing and stealing valuable lessons from those that knew how to play.

After years of playing with this unique group of Chinese players, they had bonded over time and connected themselves to one another through a passion for soccer. This group was formed in a foreign country, in a far away place from home, by ethnicity, culture and love for the game. This brotherhood would soon find its way back to it roots in the years to come, reuniting with the pastime through the very sport that brought them together.

In 1971, the team of Chinese-Americans would be the first New York City overseas Chinese Soccer Team to visit Taiwan. Together with Hong Kong counterparts and teammates, the result was a 1-0 win against the ROC National Team and a victory for reconnecting with a cultural identity and soccer at it’s forefront.

“In 1971, first NYC overseas Chinese team went to Taiwan, and won 1-0 against the ROC national team.   I was on that team. In Taiwan I realized that I needed to speak Mandarin and learn more Chinese.  My first important Chinese books were bought in Taiwan.  I always have been grateful for my trip to Taiwan opened up so much of my live, and gained me the confidence to my future. I have not forgotten the people who have helped me.  It has been forty years.” ~Way P. Moy

My father’s experience in Taiwan that year went beyond the playing fields. He realized something about himself and something about his future. His revelation to learn Mandarin, more Chinese and other languages prompted him to buy his first important Chinese books that would significantly shape his career and the rest of his life. Although my father’s soccer days are now limited to the Sunday morning pass-arounds, which started 40 years ago as an outlet for Chinese American immigrants to escape violent gang activity and racial segregation, he has since had a successful career as a Chinese Interpreter and has continued his collection of books that stems from the very first ones from Taiwan. His library collection now extends tens of thousands of books.

Being able to to travel to another country to play soccer at that age was an exciting opportunity for a group of young kid off the streets of New York City. What they didn’t know at the time was that they were making history for Chinese Americans and for soccer in Chinatown. Embracing cultural identity, reconnecting with heritage and promoting passion is what my father and his friends found. The journey they took to discover such treasures, now inscribed in the history books, is a path I cherish, it is a path seek to follow and is one in which I seek to repave and continue in a my own direction.

Read the Second Part of  “Long Teng Cup: An Azkals’ Historical Relevance”

Continue to Part 2…

Crossing Football Cultures: A Dream-Cup Come True

The last several months have been quite exciting and extremely busy for me. It seems like just a short while ago, I had landed in Manila for the first time. The day I landed, I encountered trials and signed with Kaya FC. Shortly thereafter, the Azkals’ training in preparation for the Long Teng Cup had started, and since then, between the UFL Cup, International Friendlies, and now the Dream Cup, all of them are passing by at such a rapid pace. I almost wish I had more time to fully absorb, reflect and really contemplate on the experiences I have encountered thus far, but sometimes life cannot wait for you, and now I must focus on the task at hand and continue to excel.

When I caught light of a possible friendly match against the LA Galaxy, I didn’t think much of it. There are always rumors and talks about possibilities that seem more like wishful thinking, and I saved the thought of it and carried on with the more important events going on: tackling our International friendly matches and the Cup group stages. Now that training in preparation has begun, I needed to transition from our quarter final game into this Saturday’s match against the start-studded squad from Los Angeles.

Many people have been asking me how I feel about this match up and what I think about playing against David Beckham. When I look at this incredible opportunity to play the LA Galaxy, I see more than just the sensational icon we all have grown to love. What makes this match so special truly surpasses the Filipino fans’ love for their Azkals and David Beckham himself. Although these two crucial factors will in itself boost soccer frenzy and spread soccer fever throughout the country, there are some more subtle significances attached to the match up.

For me, it will be an honor and great privilege to step on the same field as these legendary players. Landon Donavan, Robbie Keane and David Beckham have all done tremendous things for their club and for their respective countries. Very few people in the world even get close to achieving what these players have produced in their lifetime. So, being able to experience this combination of quality and the magnitude of what they have contributed to the sport is truly humbling. With a stellar squad, the LA Galaxy, fresh off their 2011 MLS Cup win will host an impressive team, led by none other than Head Coach Bruce Arena, a former New York native that has displayed an impressive coaching career and has truly transformed soccer in the United States as we know it.

For me, the match will signify several things in the eyes of soccer in the United States and football in the Philippines. With my undying devotion to the development of soccer in America and my newfound dedication to the development of football in the Philippines, this game is a true testament to the strides that both countries have taken since their declaration of being Football Nations. As a Chinese–Filipino American, born and raised in New York City, growing up playing soccer through the developmental programs in the United States and representing the Philippines in the sport I have grown to love, this match up displays a few notable milestones on the progress of both countries. Less than 20 years in the making, to have a Major League Soccer team sign legendary players, keep local heroic icons, maintain a fantastic staff, and take a team on a world tour is to say the United States has now the infrastructure and the resources to produce high level players and teams. Quite young compared to the fully developed football countries in the world, the United States has made a vast stride in competing with top level nationals. It is exciting to see, and it is even more significant that I get to experience it as it happens.

Likewise, the Philippines has much to learn about the creation and implementation of such an infrastructure in the hopes to develop a competitive atmosphere for football in Asia. What is markedly different about the early stages of Philippine sports history was the masses’ commitment, passion and loyalty to a completely new sport. The embrace and willingness to accept a new sport are truly evident in football’s recent spike in popularity. Without other sports such as basketball, baseball, American football and many more sports that have seemed to overshadow soccer in the

United States, here in the Philippines, soccer is getting its much needed attention to shine and stride forward. I only hope it can continue on an upward rise as the United States has been slowly doing. My heart remains at the development and success of both countries, and this match is a culmination of all those emotions and feeling I have towards the sport we love and the forward direction I hope for it.