The UFL has been back since January and I have had my share of opportunities to watch the games both on TV and live at Emperador Stadium. Allow me to share with you guys my 7 thoughts on this season’s UFL games so far:
I was excited about the new venue – until I saw the initial directions they posted about how to get there. I could not figure it out and was sure I could not depend on it to get to Emperador Stadium. If it weren’t for friends who had previously gone there I think I would have gone around in circles before I found the place. There are newly-posted directions now but I haven’t checked them out (since I don’t need to anymore).
My big comments on this place:
(a) I love that the pitch is close to the audience to the point that you are at risk of being hit by a ball at any given time (haha, exciting!)
(b) I hate that the location means airplanes flying over every few minutes or so because sometimes they feel like those things are going to land on the pitch itself (my friends and I even mimic the voices of flight attendants when we hear the planes flying over: “Flight No. 23542 is now arriving at Ninoy Aquino International Airport…lol). You hear it on TV too.
(c) There are no toilets (just a couple of portalets for now). There are no locker rooms either. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing considering a lot of girls (and girls at heart) seem to enjoy the view of the players changing right in front of them to the point where they are only wearing towels (oh you know who you are).
(d) The name! I know that Emperador is probably a big sponsor but calling it Empy sometimes makes me feel like I'm asking people to go out for drinks when we talk about the place. Then again, as a friend of mine pointed out, if McDonald's became the big sponsor it would be equally awkward to call it Ronald McDonald Stadium. Lol!
My love-hate relationship with AKTV’s coverage
I’m happy that the UFL is being covered on TV. It’s my only source for the times when I cannot go to watch the games live because of how far I am from the venue. It’s not perfect, but I appreciate that we at least have that. I just wish that they’d stop focusing too much on the audience and just keep the camera on the games. They need to improve on those wide shots too while they’re at it because the lighting makes the game look dark in some parts and too bright in others. I have to admit that in that aspect, ABS-CBN Sports does a better job. I don’t find it frustrating if I have to watch an Azkals game on TV compared to how it can be on AKTV sometimes.
While I think it is good for the league that the time slot is prime time I am sad because it means that I cannot watch the games live as much as I used to. It’s just too long a trip (can take as short as an hour and a half to two or more) to make on a weekday considering I have to be at work early the following day.
It’s so much better to watch the games live and until the coverage improves I would really want to watch from the stands more than on AKTV – if only the time was better for me. It's just not viewer friendly for those of us who want to watch live. We're coming from work and their games start at 5. Then they end late when we all have to be up early for work the next day. It's frustrating.
Oh my Kaya
If you have been reading my blog since last year, I was once a loyal supporter of Kaya FC. To this day I consider myself a Kaya fan but I have also been a fan of Stallion Sta Lucia FC since they acquired Rufo Sanchez, Joaco Canas and Jason De Jong. Those acquisitions to me meant the team means business and are really going after being the top team in the league; it’s kind of hard to ignore a move like that. Being made to choose when they play against each other has been heartbreaking for me, especially with how Kaya has been doing so far.
The changes in players, the changes in Coaches and all the buzz I hear on the stands about how things are going for them has me worried for the team I fully supported last year. If the game against Loyola last night was any indication, they still have it in them to bounce back and I hope they do. I would be really happy if they did…but I am still rooting for SSFC to be champions again. Kaya will always be one of my favorite teams but this year my heart belongs to the Stallions first, Kaya second.
One thing you have to love about the UFL is how approachable all the players are. They take the time to shake the hands of fans and take photos with them after the games. They even sit with everyone else in the stands before or after their games to watch other teams play. I've even had players (and their moms) give ME gifts instead of the other way around (and I love you all for that, no need to namedrop)! Isn't that something? It makes the whole football-loving community feel like one big family. I like that.
I don’t think that these things happen in other countries. It’s pretty cool, don’t you think?
Friendships Forged Through Football
Speaking of family, one thing that the UFL has given me is something that I greatly appreciate: friends. I have been watching football games on TV for a while before I discovered via a blog friend an avid fan who then introduced me to her set of friends – a group that I am now a part of. It has been more than a year since I have met all of them and we have been through so many things together, sharing our love for football and love for other things (and people, haha) along the way. I can’t imagine how I’d be without meeting these people and bonding watching the UFL with them.
My “football friends” keep growing everyday. I meet so many people from different walks of life, people I would not have met otherwise. As the friends keep growing, my life experience does too because I learn so much from them. I have the UFL to thank for that!
The term started as a joke. My friends and I don’t call them that anymore but it’s something that we used to call Stallion Sta Lucia FC. Can you blame us? A majority of the players on the team are really handsome (or in Tagalog, pogi)!
Don’t let the looks fool you: they are a really good team and they play hard on defense and have effective strikers who can give other teams a big challenge when they are on the field against them. For me, this is one of the best teams and with no losses yet in the league this year, you can expect them to be the team to beat for this round of competitions in the UFL.
Another refreshing fact about these guys? They are all pretty humble in spite of their success. You can’t help but love that about them. I know I do.
My goodness, the games get better and better as I watch them – especially when the teams going up against each other are really killing for a win. Yes, there are still moments when refs make crappy calls that bring out what someone once called the inner sailor in me (I tend to shout and complain like a man when I watch these things and they get heated), but I have to admit, they have been very exciting. Spitting, flying kicks and overacting goalkeepers aside, the games have been very entertaining to watch. You can’t help but love it if you watch live…I cannot stop expressing how things are so much better for me live!
As of this entry I have yet to try the UFL "app." The reviews I've heard have been less than positive and considering how I think the website still has a lot of room for improvement, I'd rather not try it just yet. It's still a growing league, I'd give them that. Things can still get better.
Photo Source: Soccer Central PH