Philippines’ American Football squad makes home debut
MANILA, Philippines — American Football tries to make its mark here in the sports-crazed country of Philippines.
And what better way to start making waves here than having an own squad to represent the country– known as the Philippines Punishers.
But American football is actually not unknown to most Filipino sports enthusiasts — some even follow the National Football League (NFL) religiously.
But the main thrust in the creation of the squad, coached by Timothy Beasley, was to popularize American football, and have the exposure to be able to play it an international level.
In fact, when the American Football Federation of the Philippines (AFFP) held football clinics around various fields in Manila, a lot of locals keenly showed up and participated in the learning sessions .
“There are American Football enthusiasts who play the game for weekend recreational reasons only,” said Beasly, a certified American Football coach, who’s married to a Filipina.
“We want to bring the sport to another level, play it by the international rules, legalize the group and get the right accreditation for it from sports governing bodies. That is our goal. We want to make American football a developmental sport in the country,” continued Beasley.
The Punishers, who have represented in the country in international stints the past two years, currently have a 45-man roster, with players ranging from 18 to 43.
Besides Filipino players, the Punishers also have foreign blood in the team and most of them expatriates.
Since October 2011, the Philippines has managed to hold its ground against squads like Beijing Guardians and Hong Kong Congras — mostly in games abroad.
Beasly clarified that the sport wasn’t just for the affluent saying even one of the players in their line-up was security guard turned football player.
And contrary to popular belief, not only the burly can play American Football.
“There are positions on the team that require shorter, leaner players,” said Beasly. “We have a guy who is only 5’1 who is pure Pinoy.”
The Philippines Punishers clash with Saipan Sharks at the Track and Oval Field at Ultra Philsports Complex on Saturday at 1:30p.m.
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