As a Filipino, being a football fan is unusual. But more unusual is a Filipino girl football fan. You see, Philippines is a basketball crazy country. We live and breathe basketball the same way Europeans and South Americans love their football. Football in the Philippines is considered as a sport of the elite or the rich. Unlike basketball, where you can see courts in every neighborhood, football fields are rare to see here. Football is usually being played in private schools and universities. We are the only South East Asian country that is not football crazy.
Everyone who meets me are usually surprised when they find out than I am a football fan…more specifically a Liverpool FC fan. I remember someone (a European that’s for sure) asked me who has a bigger club fan base in the country. I had no idea to be honest. It’s actually difficult to know which club but maybe Real Madrid or Barcelona or Manchester United (god forbid!).
There are three things that for me that makes it a challenge to be a Liverpool FC fan here in the Philippines. One is the time zone. Right now, Philippines is 8 hours ahead of England. So a normal 3 pm match in the Liverpool is 11 pm in Manila. European games is more difficult to watch since its usually 3am or 4 am Manila time. You really need to have that kind of devotion to the team to wake up in the middle of the night to watch their games on a weekday. I set up my alarm so I can wake up and watch their matches in the middle of the night. I had to lower down the volume of the tv in my room so as not to disturb my parents in the other room next door. Worse, they will wake up and will tell me that I’m being foolish to be watching a football game at that time of the night. (on a happier note, I was able to convert my parents and they are now football fans as well so they now understand if they find me awake in the middle of the night watching my beloved LFC J).
Two is where and how you can watch the games. Premier league games are shown on cable tv. Previously it was shown at ESPN / Fox Sports Asia. Two years ago, BelN Asia got the rights for the English Premier League, Champions League and Europa League. However, you have to pay an additional fee for the BelN channels. Not everyone are keen to pay that additional fee. You can go to some sports bars in a tourist area in the city to watch some football games with fellow fans who are usually European tourists or expats living in the country. It’s more fun watching it there since you will be able to cheer your team with fellow fans. I remember watching earlier this year the 2016 Europa league Final against Sevilla in a sports bar. I was so surprised with the large number of Liverpool fans inside the bar. They occupied a big portion of the bar complete with flags and the singing. You can just feel like you were in Liverpool. Unfortunately we all know the result of that game.
I learned that as an LFC fan, you need to have a strong heart so to speak. Following the team is like riding a roller coaster. The ups and down, the success (2005 CL), the disappointments (2013-2014 almost PL Champions) and the heartbreaks (Torres asked to be transferred). You name it, LFC gives it to their fans. So the third and final challenge for me as a LFC fan here is I don’t have anyone to share my love for LFC. They will never understand why I was heartbroken on January 31, 2011 when Fernando Torres asked for a transfer to Chelsea FC (a club that I absolutely don’t like). They will never understand how I can enthusiastically work with just an hour and half of sleep after watching Liverpool beat Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals of the Europa League. Sometimes my friends tolerate me and will usually let me talk about them but they will never understand what I am going through as a Liverpool fan. If you talk basketball here, you will be involved in an animated conversation. If football, it’s like you are from another planet.
Despite these challenges, I will never regret supporting Liverpool FC. I will keep on supporting them through ups and downs. I will keep on dreaming that one day in my lifetime they will get a chance to visit my country and if that time comes, I will be one of the first to welcome them here J
As we say here, Salamat and Mahal kita Liverpool FC.
Written by @sette_23