THIS type of football is about carrying and throwing the ball, plus a lot of body contact, and the American Football Federation of the Philippines (AFFP) is serious about propagating the sport in the country.
There is in fact a team carrying the country’s colors — the Philippine Punishers, who hope to show what the sport is all about in an exhibition match against the Saipan Sharks on Saturday at the Philsports field in Pasig City.
“We want to bring the sport to another level, play it by international rules, legalize the group and get the right accreditation for it from the sports governing body,” said Tim Beasley, a certified member of the American Football Coaches Association.
“We want to make American football a developmental sport in the country.”
Several versions of the sport had been introduced in the country, from the non-contact flag football to a scaled-down 7-a-side game, but Beasley and the Punishers are presenting the full package — 11 players a side in full gear, with the Philsports Field sporting uprights (although organizers for now are using PVC pipes as improvised goal posts), and National Football League-style markings on the field.
AFFP held a press conference on Monday at the Team Insider Sports Bar in Makati to generate interest for the coming match as well as the sport.
Only through word of mouth, Beasley said that the AFFP was able to recruit players who either were already interested in the sport or were trained through several clinics the group has organized since they were founded in 2011.
This will be the first time the Punishers will be playing in Manila after victories against the Hong Kong Cobras and the Beijing Guardians. The Punishers had played in Clark Field in their first-ever match but lost to Guam.
Players are from different backgrounds — students, employees, former high school football players, expatriates — ranging from 18 to 43 years of age.
The sport is American and Filipinos are naturally undersized for each position, but running back Mark Castro believes it shouldn’t matter.
“It’s not about you being small,” said Castro, a five-foot-six 143-pound rusher from University of Santo Tomas. Top running backs in the US are typically just a hair under six feet and a little over 200 lbs.
“It’s always the heart. As Filipinos, we have the biggest heart.”