Thursday, 29 September 2016

Heavy heart

Queens Park Rangers 1 Blackburn Rovers 1
Queens Park Rangers 0 Newcastle Utd 6
Huddersfield Town 2 Queens Park Rangers 1
Queens Park Rangers 1 Sunderland 2 (EFL Cup)
Queens Park Rangers 1 Birmingham City 1
Burton Albion 1 Queens Park Rangers 1

Just looking at the list of match results over the past month makes me feel extremely low, never mind the fact that I haven't been there and witnessed, as have many of my good friends back in the UK, what appears to be an unambitious team spirit.

And, over the past few days, I am reading from afar, about the latest football controversy which may well involve at least two QPR managers. In my QPR whatsapp discussion group no one is shocked or surprised, but rather, frustrated with a system that has been so obviously filled with corruption at the expense of the fans who spend their hard earned money supporting their clubs in numerous ways. One is easily left to conclude that greed, foreign investment and the globalisation of football has led to where we are now. This makes me sad from a deeply personal perspective, and the experience that I am currently going through has made this all very relevant.

There is no doubt that the world is going through what appears to me to be a very negative 'isolationist' phase. I look at what happened in the UK with Brexit just after I left, I look at the Philippines and the attempts of the new President to isolate himself from its key allies (such as the US and the whole of the EU - ref: 'fuck you' statement), in the name of 'nation building', and this close battle in the US between Clinton and Trump - with Trump's increasingly xenophobic rhetoric. It feels like the world has gone completely gaga.

I am living proof that it is possible to be 'global' in the way that one exists. I am half British and half Filipina. I have lived in both countries and can speak both languages. I feel at home with both cultures and understand what it is to be open minded, and accepting of other people despite differences and to even celebrate those differences. It wasn't until I was about 13 that I understood what the word racist even meant - perhaps that was due to being brought up in HK which at that time sat in a very anomalous place as a colony full of people who were, biologically and culturally like me. And so I find it extremely hard to take when I see countries turning more inward. It's so far from the way many people were talking about globalisation and multiculturalism no less than ten or fifteen years ago. And it breaks my heart because I can understand why people feel that way and why it has happened. Because those in charge have failed to win the hearts and minds of people round to wanting a liberal democracy and what it has to offer. Yes, from the UK all the way to the Philippines - people want something else and feel that current or past governments have failed to provide real assurances (be it finance or security related) for the hard working masses. What's dangerous is that such feelings can easily turn in to hatred or retribution.

What the hell has this got to do with football, and with QPR? Football's globalised nature, and the fact it is so well loved by many people around the world leaves it open to the same problems that we see in politics, including the propensity for corruption. QPR is no exception. Personally I have always loved the connection we now have with Asia through our Malaysian ownership - but of course I will sit and listen to arguments where friends are very clearly unhappy with what they see as 'foreign' intrusion in to the sport and in to their club. And what they see as very reason matches are being moved around to weird days and times, that changes in logos and team colours are being made, that greedy agents are forcing managers and clubs to spend big on 'past it' Champions League players. It's a very tough argument for me to win on the day, especially after a heavy QPR defeat or a series of poor results.

I have no idea what the answer is to all of this. My heart tells me that one has to believe that human decency will win out in the end. But when I look at football and its corruption issues, and I look at the wider world that we live in where issues around security, poverty and immigration dominate the headlines I realise that people are being made to believe that we are living in fear. And because of that we're all starting to feel so depressed, whether we are buying in to that fear or whether are witnessing it happening, both in football and in politics.

Right now the world feels like a really dark place. And whist I write this with what is, an extremely heavy heart, for the UK, for the Philippines and for my club which is (judging from recent news on Hasselbaink now being caught up in the Telegraph sting) likely to go through even more turmoil, I do have to have some faith. One thing I do realise is that whilst corruption does exist, and while there are despotically-disposed leaders everywhere, some places are more corrupt than others. And some places see more equality and justice than others. I am currently living in a place where there is a very loose definition of justice. Not only that, but even the very definition of human rights is being questioned by people. I have to believe that at least in the UK there is a little more of an even keel and understanding of right and wrong, as well as a respect for due process. And that, in general,  people there believe in equality and a general sense of fairness. Perhaps this is the shake up that football needs, but I truly hope the trees being shaken around the world right now will yield more positive seeds than I can currently see for the future. 

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Another universe

Queens Park Rangers 2 Swindon Town 2 (4-2 PEN) - EFL Cup
Cardiff City 0 Queens Park Rangers 2
Barnsley 3 Queens Park Rangers 2
Queens Park Rangers 0 Preston North End 2
Queens Park Rangers 2 Rochdale 1 - EFL Cup
Wigan Athletic 0 Queens Park Rangers 1

The games have been coming thick and fast and being so far away it hasn't been easy to keep up, especially given the 7 hour time difference. God only knows how I'll cope when that changes to 8 hours in a couple of months.

Transfer deadline day has come and gone...and there's been a lot of talk about how the Championship is becoming as ridiculous as the Premier League- with bigger teams involved, large sums of money changing hands and Sky Sports dictating irritating schedule changes away from the traditional Saturday. To quote Loft for Words 'Everything we used to hate about the Premier League, well it's all here now as well'.  It's a valid moan, but outside of some big clubs being relegated (and hasn't that happened before?) is this really new news? Haven't we always known that this division was as competitive, if not more than the Premier League, albeit different in football style and calibre?

And I am not sure that this season so far, has shown itself to be more disruptive to our scheduled fixture list as previous ones. In fact, now being based so far away I know for a fact I've only been able to watch one bloody match due to televised viewing and that was the very first one. All other shifts have simply been the domino effect of other events and not just TV scheduling.

Nonetheless, I get it, I also have this nagging feeling of despondency when I think about the last few years supporting QPR. Apart from that one fateful day at Wembley, it seems to have lacked the excitement, passion and heart that is supposed to be associated with our club. So what is it that's getting us down?

I am learning one important thing. While experience and age can count for something in terms of the wisdom that we hold, you can never legislate for what will happen tomorrow and how everything converges together to create the universe of your existence. This all sounds a little trippy dippy doesn't it?  But looking at my own recent experience with moving over the Philippines for this sabbatical I've had a tough time adjusting back in to the culture and the norms even though I know it well and have lived here before. Of course, I realise that I may have had unrealistic expectations and those around may have also had unrealistic expectations about my presence here too. Not only that but we're currently experiencing here some political shifts that, to some, are extremely worrying and they do make you appreciate the most fundamental rights in life which perhaps back in the UK we take for granted. With all of that in the context of my decision to work with various NGOs and social enterprises here as part of my own personal ambition to want to help my country in the development sector and do my tiny part in alleviating the huge problem of poverty, you can imagine how my head is swirling around and wondering about where I am and whether I've made the right decision. And yeah, sometimes I do feel despondent. Actually, sometimes I feel really sad. And sometimes, I am frightened.

And so to what is happening at QPR, has this feeling of despondency come about because there has been an element of grinding our results so far, and scoring from set pieces as opposed to more exciting open play? Or has it actually been because we're still going through an important period of change where we (as fans) are yet to accept that our whole universe simply isn't the same and not just the bits of it.

I like to think about it within the context of the 7 stages of grief (outlined below). I won't be doing it in this blog post, but all hardcore QPR fans could probably track our course in this journey since the Tango & Cash days. And in my opinion we've  been stuck in stage 4 for some time. This may explain the feeling of despondency...

1. Shock and denial
2. Pain and guilt
3. Anger and bargaining
4. Depression, Reflection, Loneliness
5. The Upward Turn
6. Reconstruction
7. Acceptance and Hope

Fear not, however, as the next stage is the Upward Turn and there will be certain things that we will learn to accept and live with or live without. I'd like to think in my bonkers little mind that maybe this will be signalled via an unprecedented cup run (so shoot me).

It's so easy to never make a change, to want things to be the same as they always have been, or how you were told they would be. But where would be the fun and the learning in that? And on that note I'd like to welcome our solid 7 new signings in to the QPR universe and wish them all the best at this blessed club of ours.