Phil Younghusband in action
The public first saw him in a celebrity duet singing contest a few years ago on national television. He was described then as a Pinoy football player from Chelsea. He became an instant celebrity after that gig not because of his singing prowess but because of his guy-next-door image considering he is a half-Filipino and half-Brit. Several endorsement deals followed after. He was on billboards, print and TV commercials.
But who is Philip Placer Younghusband or simply Phil Younghusband?
Actually this was my question when our agency proposed him to become the endorser for Alaska Powdered Milk Drink, the carrier brand of our Alaska Football Power Camp and Alaska Football Cup. I never heard of him prior to his celebrity duet gig. My only concern at that time was his legitimacy as a football player. Can this guy, who first blossomed into the public consciousness through a singing contest, really play football? And at that time, no knows about our national football team.
This is important to Alaska Milk simply because we want truth in our communication materials and credibility in our sports development program. We have the Alaska Aces to lean on for our youth basketball program and professional Spanish football player Tomas Lozano for our 15 years-old youth football program.
Can Phil Younghusband really play football?
After a thorough research and based on the info gathered, Phil Younghusband can play football. We inked him to endorse Alaska Powdered Milk Drink. But to be honest, I was still skeptical. We know he can play football. We know he is a good football player. But we have to understand that we haven’t seen him play an actual football game since there was no opportunity at that time.
Then came the biggest youth football event in the country, the 13th Alaska Football Cup in 2008 where we invited him to be part of the awarding ceremony. I asked him to stay inside the Alaska tent while waiting to finish the games. I was then with my four years old daughter Raine (she is six now) at that time. Raine brought her inflatable beach ball designed as a football and kicked it around inside the tent. I went out for a while to check on the games. When I got back and to my surprise, Phil was playing football with my daughter using the beach ball. And boy, they were having fun.
Phil and Raine with the beach ball during the 2008 Alaska Football Cup
Phil has a soft heart for kids. He loves being with them and moreover he loves playing with them. I guess that’s because he has a little sister.
Then the awarding came. I escorted him out to go to the stage. Who is Phil Younghusband? The 3,000 kids in the Alaska Football Cup certainly knew who he is. He was literally mobbed. And young girls participating in the tournament were shouting their lungs out upon seeing him. “Oh my God, it’s Phil,” they shouted. He was like a rockstar. Well, those kids who love football look upon Phil as a hero, a football hero. I even heard an echo from some female voice box from the other side of Alabang Country Club shouting “I will marry you when I grow up.” I was simply amazed, astonished and shocked. Young footballers knew him even before he joined that singing thing on TV.
And this was in November 2008, two years before the emergence of the PH Azkals into national consciousness.
So Phil became the brand endorser of Alaska Powdered Milk Drink and our football ambassador. He did a TVC, posters, print ads, TV guestings and others. More than his great skills as a football player, his fondness and the way he relates to kids made him fit to the brand. The other factor was his sincerity that he believes in what Alaska Milk is doing in supporting youth football development in the country for 1 and half decades. It was more than a business relationship, it’s a partnership.
In 2009, Phil and his brother James were in our office for a visit. I asked him about his plans whether he will pursue a career in the entertainment business and alike. He said no. He doesn’t see himself in showbiz. He doesn’t like the entertainment culture. He doesn’t want to be a TV or movie star.
He said his passion is football. He wants to help kids play football. He wants to be a catalyst in the development of football in the country. And so he pursued his passion.
A few months later, he and James again made a visit. We talked. And what interested me was that he and his brother James were trying to go back to the national football team. Phil said that it was not easy going back. He said that the team has a new foreign coach, Simon Mc Menemy. Phil revealed that Mc Menemy said to them that “we don’t need models here.” My reaction was a burst of laughter.
Eventually, they proved their worth in the field and became part of the national football team now called the PH Azkals.
The next thing I knew, the football team was competing in the Suzuki Cup. Honestly, I just hoped that they would fair in that tournament. After the game against Vietnam, an officemate CK Kanapi posted a video of the Azkals win in her FB account.
Can Phil Younghusband play football?
What I saw was what I wished of seeing since 2008. Phil actually playing. That second goal against Vietnam was a highlight reel for many Filipino football enthusiasts. Phil kicked that football using his left leg with ease after shaking off two defenders. That was pure talent.
Yet that goal made him a target in the games that succeeded. Against Indonesia in Game 1 of the semis, Phil was being guarded and even tackled by three Indon players. In Game 2, there were already 5 defenders against Phil. Even his Ronaldo-liked-dribbling couldn’t get through those many defenders.
Phil chose the right path of serving the country first by being part of the national team. His new found fame not only in the Philippines but also in Indonesia is better than that of Christian Baustista. Phil Younghusband is now in the national consciousness not because of his individual football skills but because he is part of the team that we Filipinos are proud of.
He is not Phil Younghusband. He is a PH Azkal.
My Rule of Thumb for PH Azkals: THUMBS UP!
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