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Mabuhay! I'm an Asian American writer (Back Kicks And Broken Promises, Abbott Press, 2012), martial artist and teacher who was born in The Philippines, raised in Hong Kong and ended up in New Jersey.

06 January, 2012

Fathers and Sons and Football

I posted a blog last March called "Father and Sons and Martial Arts" that talked about how my son, Jude, was (and he still does) coming home from day care and getting into martial arts stances and throwing kicks and punches in the air. I talked about how proud I was because, as a longtime martial artist myself, I'd love it if Jude followed in my footsteps and studied Taekwondo or Karate or Escrima or whatever martial art he gets into.

This blog - perhaps a Fathers and Sons post will become an annual thing - is about my (our?) love affair with Arsenal Football Club, undoubtedly the best football team in London and in Europe. Yes, that is my biased assessment but what self-respecting football fan wouldn't stand by his team? Haha.

Ever since Jude was a baby, he'd watch football on TV with me. When he was newly born, he might be asleep or awake but we'd sit on the sofa and watch AFC take on whatever club it was scheduled to play that week. Whether it was a weekend Premier League match or a midway Champions League or Carling Cup fixture, we'd be on the sofa watching the match. Eventually, I'd buy him infant PJs and play wear from Arsenal. Yes, I'd order the clothes from England and not from a US retailer. As Jude got older, I bought him some replica jerseys for toddlers. His last jersey, from the 2009-2010, is getting smaller and he's due for new kit. (He's also been to Red Bulls Arena and watched the NY Red Bulls take on Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur play against Sporting Lisbon and he has a Thierry Henry NY Red Bulls replica jersey.)

In 2009, my wife gave me a Wii for Christmas. Naturally, I bought the current FIFA game. Recently, she bought me the 2012 edition. Watching me play, Jude cheers when I (as Arsenal, of course) score a goal, responding the way I would watching an actual live match. As his football education continues, he's gotten familiar with our team's jersey and he recognizes it whenever he sees it. If he's not wearing his and there's an Arsenal match on TV, he'll point at the players and say, "I have that shirt." He's also taken to calling Arsenal the "red team." Recently, he's learnt to say the team's name and when a replay of last month's Wolves-Arsenal match was on TV I asked him who was playing. Jude looked at the screen then to me and, with a huge smile, "Arsenal." You can imagine my joy and pride.

This week, it was Jude's turn for Show-And-Tell at day care. For that, he brought his Arsenal shirt and talked about it. He told the class that it was his favourite shirt, that it's the red soccer team and that he loves it. That was yesterday. On the way home, I asked him about what he said and after he recounted it he added, "And the team shirt is getting smaller. Can I buy a new one?"

You can imagine how I felt. This season Arsenal has its usual red home jersey but a two-tone blue away one. I asked Jude which one he wanted and he said the blue. Honestly, I don't think he's aware of what the blue one looks like but he likes the colour blue and looks great in it so, yes, he can have one. The best part, though, was that he asked for it. As the saying goes, "My work is done."

Before getting home, we stopped at the local Chinese takeout spot, ordered some food, hit the local drug store for a couple of things then proceeded to the soccer and lacrosse shop to see if they had an Arsenal jersey Jude's size. I'm glad they didn't because, as my wife pointed out, for his Arsenal stuff we have to order it from Arsenal so we can get BAS put on the back like we did with his two previous shirts. I guess with my wife and her football indoctrination, my work could also be done.

Another smile was put on my face when we walked into the shop. Seeing all the kits and soccer stuff, Jude said, "Oh...my...God" and when he saw a size five ball in the middle of the room he added, "Daddy, look at that soccer." That's what he calls the ball - soccer. He'd love to have kicked it around but there were other customers there and I didn't want him to disrupt them and I didn't want him to chance breaking something.

Well, just like with the martial arts, I'd love it if Jude really gets into football and plays, like I did but takes it further than I did, and if he really becomes a fan, especially of Arsenal. If he does neither of these things, I'll be okay with that too. As long as he finds his 'thing' and lives a happy, content and fulfilling life I'll be cool with that. But, if he were to become a Gooner like his dad that wouldn't be such a bad thing. Or, better still, play for Arsenal and, maybe even score....Hmm.



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