Before anything else, let me warn all of you that this is a LONG post. I’ve tried to edit it out but the talkative person in me just won’t quit on this one.
Early in February 2012 UFL Cup Champions Stallion Sta. Lucia FC, a club in the 1st Division of the United Football League, posted on Twitter and Facebook about a special contest for its female fans. The contest was something where the fans (single and female of course) can win a date with their favorite football player on Valentine’s Day. This got female fans excited and had some of the male fans – well – a little put off and wondering what is up with this whole thing.
Frankly – and I say this not because I am female – this was a wise move on the part of SSFC. I was recently talking to my cousin’s husband and he told me some people did a study on Philippine football and they realized that the majority of people who watch the games are female. So to me this was a great marketing ploy to help drum up even more support for the team. If you get the girls to watch the games more, they can get their boyfriends, husbands, brothers, male relatives/friends to come along too. And you know how persuasive we girls can be when we want something right?
My friends and I were joking around about this but we never took it seriously (although in hindsight as a blogger, I actually thought it would be a nice, blog-worthy event if I did get the date). I have always had a bit of a crush on Joaco Canas and joked that I would try to get the date to meet him.
The contest called for girls to take a photo of themselves watching the game last Feb 7th at Rizal Memorial (either right there in Rizal or in front of their TV). Although I was there at Rizal to catch a bit of the game, I didn’t take a photo and thought that was it, I couldn’t join the contest.
By the time the deadline came along SSFC was still posting about the contest. I decided to give it a shot. I figured a lot of girls would have asked for a date with Joaco already so I decided to pick someone else, a new guy named Jeremy Hohn. My friends and I were talking about how the defender resembled Azkal Angel Guirado with his long hair (flimsy reason but hey, that’s all I’ve got) so I ended up tweeting SSFC about it and lo and behold, I got the date.
I called this the date that almost never was because I almost didn’t go to the date. I wasn't paying attention to the details of the contest about having to give my contact information to SSFC and had actually given it at the last minute. Thankfully they were still very accommodating and just told me that they would contact me halftime on game day. Funny thing is, even on that day, I didn’t hear from them because as it turns out, they couldn't contact my phone. Lucky for me I recognized some of the other girls and I found out where to go after the game. Still, bad luck followed me like a stalker: I ended up taking C5 to get to the venue while everyone else took EDSA and I was stuck in traffic for almost 2 hours. It got me thinking: should I attribute my luck (or the lack of it) to the fact that my “date” was #13? I almost did.
When I finally got there, all the girls already got to meet with their dates. They were given flowers, had photos taken together and all that. I didn't have that opportunity because I was late. Those two cars that stalled on C5 that night better not show themselves to me ever again.
The big surprise for me that evening was that the person I was talking to via email turned out to be former actress Lani Lobangco. She used her married name Lani Santos in the emails so I wasn't aware of who I was talking to exactly. I was surprised, excited and happy to meet her.
But I digress, so let us move on.
Ms. Lani brought me to Azkal Jason de Jong and told him to introduce me to my “date,” which he did – but not without ending the introduction with the question, “Ate, ang pogi ‘no?” I was a little horrified because he was pretty much saying that I was older by calling me Ate (the Tagalog word for older sister). Knowing that this guy can totally kick ass, a mental cartoon-style punch in the face was as big of a reaction as I could get. And to further cement my embarrassment, my “date” said one of the first Tagalog words he learned was “Ate.” [Insert cringe here.]
Jeremy Hohn struck me as quiet guy. He explained that he was shy, which I found cute considering what a big guy he is. I asked him random questions about him like a reporter. The blogger in me just could not resist and being that I haven't been on a "date" in ages, I really didn't know what else to say. I learned things about him like what he took up in college, where else he has played football and things like that. He struck me as a very nice, down to earth guy who really loved football. He has a thing for monkeys too. I mean, his face lit up at the topic that it almost made me want to look like a monkey, haha! With the help of my “wing man” XP (the best WM you can find this side of the known universe), who had accompanied me to the “date” we got to know Aussie Jesse Martindale as well. It was a little hard peeling off the layers of these two (figuratively girls, figuratively!) but after a while, we were all talking and sharing stories instead of having random awkward silences in between sips of beer.
Hector Zhagi) and funny moments (c/o Tip Fucoy, who most people will probably now recognize from his McDonald’s commercial with Nonito Donaire).
I have to admit, getting to know these people off the pitch on a somewhat personal level makes me want to support them more when they play. I think that just might be the good thing that resulted from that dinner. I say dinner now because it wasn't exactly a date in the end. I can’t say that I anticipated anything more than what happened because I honestly didn't know what to expect but to say that it was a date would be a little out there. Still, it was a good evening. I had fun and, dare I say, made some new friends along the way too.
It's too bad I never got to meet Joaco Canas. Turned out that he didn't have a date. I guess I was wrong about my assumption that a lot of girls would have asked for a date with him (has anyone seen the photos he posts of himself on Instagram? Yes? I rest my case.). By the time I got to the dinner Joaco was gone. I have no regrets about who I picked to be my "date" though. I had a good time and that's what matters. I also got to meet all these great athletes, including Coach Ernie Nierras (I was a little too starstuck that I literally dropped my bag...he is the Malditas coach too after all) and that was a good way to cap my almost-birthday (because it was my birthday 3 days after).
Thank you Stallion Sta Lucia FC for the wonderful evening. It was a pleasure meeting everyone. And thank you for the Stallions jersey/kit. I really do appreciate it. If you ever need this blogger’s help with anything, let me know.
Oh and Jason De Jong? Because of that Ate comment...I will now go on a diet. So there. Haha!
Photo Source: Stallion Sta Lucia FC Facebook Page