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A football fan like no other

By: - Reporter / @cedelfptINQ
/ 12:13 AM March 13, 2012

KATHMANDU—Perhaps no one traveled longer just to be here for the AFC Challenge Cup than Abbott Sabio.

The father of Philippine Azkals defender Jason Sabio took a leave from his medical practice in the United States, flew for 37 hours from Huntsville, Alabama, to be in this city that serves as gateway to the mesmerizing Himalayan peaks.

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He certainly doesn’t mind. He is merely making up for lost time.

“Guilt,” the older Sabio said emphatically when asked why he always makes it a point to watch his son play during international matches—wherever it may be in the world.

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You see, Sabio feels he could have been more involved when his son took up the sport when he was 12 years old.

Back then, Jason was making waves in age-group swimming tournaments in Alabama, and when he asked permission from his father to take up soccer, Abbott agreed, so long as he didn’t drop swimming.

“He would train in the pool in the morning and without us knowing, he would also play soccer in the afternoon,” Abbott said.
Jason recalled he would set aside part of his allowance to pay for his soccer club dues.

It didn’t take long, though, for Abbott to find out about his son’s football addiction. “We would go into restaurants and see Jason get a pat on the back from other soccer parents saying “nice game.”

By then, though, Abbot had already missed a couple of years of Jason’s youth soccer career. “From then on, I decided I would always find time to watch his matches,” Abbott said.

One more incident that Abbott said heightened his “guilt” was when the bus that Jason and the rest of the Birmingham Southern College football team figured in an accident, leaving his son with serious facial injuries.

The team was on its way back to Huntsville, Alabama, from North Carolina, where it played a Division 1 NCAA match.

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“I couldn’t come because it was too far,” said Abbott, who used to work at the Koronadal Provincial Hospital before moving to the United States in the late 1980s.

These days, distance doesn’t seem to matter for Abbott. He came to watch the Azkals play in the freezing weather in Ulan Bator and then in the sweltering heat in Yangon, Myanmar.

He also threw away a nonrefundable $1,700 roundtrip ticket to Kaohsiung after learning Jason didn’t make the squad for the Long Teng Cup last year.
“I didn’t play soccer but I appreciate it more now with the (Philippine) team and of course with Jason,” Abbott said.

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TAGS: Abbott Sabio, AFC Challenge Cup, Azkals, Football, Jason Sabio, Philippines, Sports
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