On Monday the Clear Dream Match was announced at the Rockwell Tent. The celebrity/all-star football match will take place on Saturday, August 25 at the University of Makati Football Stadium.
It's called the Dream Match because fans will choose among 50 footballers and celebrities to create a pool of 40 players. The Younghusbands will be on opposite teams and once the forty players are settled, a draft will take place on August 11 and James and Phil will choose the players of their teams. On that day 100 lucky fans will also get to train with the Younghusbands.
Several of the UFL stars and celebs who hope to get chosen were at the launch, including Daniel Matsunaga, Nate Burkey, Anton Del Rosario, and Volcano Andrew Wolff. The pool of players will also include Green Archer keeper Patrick Deyto and Miko Mabanag from Ateneo. Paolo Bediones, who co-hosted the event, will also be considered for selection, as are the hosts of the hit show Boys Night Out, who were also present.
Admission to the match will be free of charge, but tickets seats must be reserved at the Clear Facebook page. That's also your venue for voting for the players. TV coverage is a possibility, I was told, but it hasn't been finalized yet.
The game was inspired by the Showdown in Chinatown, the brainchild of Canadian NBA star and soccer nut Steve Nash, and former U.S.A. Men's Football team captain Claudio Reyna. Ever since 2008 the two have held an annual match in New York's Chinatown to benefit their respective charitable foundations. Both active and retired football stars have played in those matches alongside NBA players like Leandro Barbosa, Chris Bosh, and Tony Parker.
The beneficiary of the game will the Tuloy Foundation. Unilever has pledged half a million worth of its products to the charity that helps street kids.
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The game should be a load of fun. However it was another announcement that day that caused a bigger ripple. The Younghusbands mentioned that they will skip the Azkals' August camp in the United States.
Apparently the Twitterverse is ablaze with the news, with many expressing their displeasure. Here is why these "haters" have it all wrong.
James told me that apart from the USA camp, where the team will face the Chicago Fire of the MLS, there will also be another camp in October, then a final camp, perhaps in Japan, before the Suzuki Cup.
The Azkals will be overcamped this year. And the United Football League will suffer.
In my opinion, we simply don't need this many camps. The one right before the Suzuki Cup should suffice. The one in August is too early, too far removed from even the Long Teng Cup in October, and a full three months before the Suzuki kicks off.
Plus, there is no guarantee that the players who will take on the likes of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand in November will be available for ANY of these camps. So why bother working on the cohesion of the players?
These camps are sure to wreak havoc with the UFL sched, which kicks off with a Cup competition in October. How they intend to finish the Cup by December with all of these camps is anyone's guess.
The league needs the Azkals because they bring star power. The Azkals need the league because the UFL keeps the Azkals fit. The interests of both parties should be considered at all times. With these camps, the UFL is getting the short end of the stick.
We should also put ourselves in the brothers' shoes. They are famous now and want to reap the rewards of endorsements and such. In a few years their popularity could very well wane. They need to strike while the iron is hot. If they go on the August camp, a slew of opportunities will be lost to them. All for what? A few training matches a full three months before the biggest tournament of the year? With players who may or may not play alongside them in the Suzuki Cup?
If they were to miss the camp right before the Suzuki Cup, then I'd question their commitment. But not for this camp, with the competition so far away.
There is also another idea that I'd like to bring forth. In the National Football League in the U.S.A., veterans get preferential treatment in training camps. They don't have to report as early as the young players, and they probably get other perks. They're older, their bodies are more fragile, and they have accomplished more than other players.
We could see the Younghusbands in this light. They took a big risk when they uprooted themselves and chose to settle here. Their heroic play climaxed in the glory of the 2010 Suzuki Cup. Between them they have scored over thirty goals for their country. Would this upsurge of Football popularity in the Philippines be remotely possible without them? A resounding no. If anyone deserves to be cut some slack, it's them.
We should see the August camp as more of a series of friendlies rather than a training camp in preparation for a tournament. Without the brothers we can test out some younger players and give them valuable experience. There's certainly nothing wrong with that.
The coaching staff have the right to bench the Younghusbands again, as they did in the Malaysia game. James and Phil know that this is the risk. But would you dare leave them out in a competitive match?
I hope the hysteria dies down and common sense prevails. We owe the brothers that much. Our team will be fine in the USA without them.
Editor's note: The blogger's views do not represent Yahoo! Southeast Asia's position on the topic or issue being discussed in this post.