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BBC covers Azkals

Even a prestigious media outfit from England, a nation which embraces football like a religion, appears to have been smitten by the exploits of the Philippine Azkals and the football mania that swept the country over the past weeks.

source: Francis Santiago | mb.com.ph

For the first time in its international coverage, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) sent a radio and TV correspondent to cover a Philippine football game – the Philippine Azkals-Mongolia AFC Challenge Cup qualifying match, which the Filipinos won, 2-0, Wednesday night before an electric banner crowd.

Kate McGeon, the BBC’s Manila correspondent, said the coverage wasn’t really for the match itself since it was just a qualifier but it was for the hype and the passion the Filipinos now have for football, which she said can be credited to the impressive victories of the Philippine Azkals.

I’m here because it’s really interesting that football is taking off in this country. If you think of the Philippines, you think about basketball not football,” McGeon said in an interview shortly after the match at the Panaad Stadium here.

“It’s fascinating to people, especially in UK. You know we are a football nation. And people here are getting interested in the game.”

BBC covers all big-time football tournaments in Europe, including the Premiere League.

“It’s not so much about the quality of the match or how important the match is internationally. It’s more of the Philippines really engaging with football in the way they never happened before,” she added.

A 10-year veteran of BBC, McGeon will be coming out with a short radio piece on the match over the weekend and a longer feature story on TV in the coming weeks.

Describing what she witnessed inside the stadium, McGeon said she was awestruck.

I loved it. The Filipinos are really happy-bubbly people, anyway. I saw them all in the stadium and the team won, 2-0. It’s unbelievable. They just explode there, it’s brilliant and it’s great,” she said.

Asked how she will angle her story for the radio and TV piece, McGeon quickly responded and said: “My angle will be that, ‘People abroad, when they thought of Philippines, and they thought of sport, they thought of basketball. And recently, the Philippine team, the Azkals, who have won quite a few matches, suddenly made people rooting for the team... buying t-shirts, scarf, painting themselves (face painting-Philippine flag). And they’re coming here in the stadium for the match, the first international match for a long time if you really don’t count the Southeast Asian Games.”

Even President Aquino was rejoicing the victory of the Azkals, issuing Thursday a congratulatory message for the team’s bringing pride and honor to the country.

I, along with the rest of the Filipino people, congratulate the Philippine Azkals for winning the first leg of their pre-qualifier match versus Mongolia, 2-0, in the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup last Wednesday night. I am grateful to you for bringing pride and honor to Filipinos the world over,” the President said.

Your two goals showcased both Filipino creativity and the hard work you put in to master your sport. You brought our people together, and reminded us once again that, united, we can reclaim our nation's glory. We look forward to cheering you on toward more triumphs,” he said.

All members of the triumphant Philippine Azkals were expected to pay a courtesy call on the President Thursday afternoon at the Palace.

The President was unable to personally watch the football game between the Philippines and Mongolia due to his hectic schedule. (With a report by Genalyn D. Kabiling)



  1. awesome! another form of a trophy for the Azkals