Monday, June 06, 2011

Fair Play: Cebu-wide program and a UFL dream

AFTER writing about the factionism in local football and how I see it as one of the stumbling blocks for the sport, I got to meet, for a few minutes, members of the two factions and learned one thing—they’re willing to work together and are working on separate projects that will ultimately complement each other.

God, indeed, works in mysterious ways.

Last Saturday, during a lunch with the Azkals, Ricky Dakay, who earlier told me he hoped my previous column would be a catalyst for unity, said he dreams of putting up a Cebu football team that will play in the UFL, the Manila-based league that is starting to make some noise now.

Most of the fans and players believe boosting and developing the UFL will be the sure way for the country to have a domestic league and for a Cebu team to be in the thick of things would really be something.

Ricky, who is a member of the Cebu Amateur Football Club, said he doesn’t even intend to have the team be made up of CAFC members as he wants the best of Cebu represented.
“It has to be a selection, that’s the best way to do it,” he said.

Dan Palami, who owns the Global FC team in the UFL, said a new team won’t be able to join the first division and will have to earn the promotion.

But that doesn’t even daunt Ricky.

“We will go through the process,” he said.

I fired off an e-mail to the marketing director in the UFL and it couldn’t have come at a more apt time as he said the UFL is opening the UFL Cup to interested teams who want to join. Mind you, it’s the Cup competition, not the league, but I think that makes sense. The UFL can’t just accept teams who want to join, it has to make sure the teams are worthy first to protect the league.

Putting up a Cebu team in the UFL, for me, entails a logistical nightmare but I think Ricky Dakay is the perfect man for the job.

The next day, I met with the Cebu Football Association board members, in yet another lunch hosted for the Azkals—(I swear all the weight I sweated off in the past four months I gained during the Azkal visit).

While talking about some points I raised in the column, Bro. Mari Aberasturi said the factionism is far from their minds as they are busy trying to establish a grassroots program that, if it succeeds, will become the envy of the whole country.

For the past few months or so, the CFA has been traveling to the different municipalities to train teachers and help establish local goverment unit-supported clubs.

In essence, the CFA is doing quietly, what the then PFF launched loudly—before eventually failing—the Kasibulan 6-12 project.

Bro. Mari said there are a lot of hiccups but added, “If we discover one or two good players, that will be worth it.”

CFA president Richard Montayre said if the grassroots program goes well, they are going to push the PFF to have it implemented in the rest of the country.

But that’s not all of it.

Of course, you can’t have a grassroots program without a tournament, so, together with Cebu Province, the CFA will start the Governor’s Cup—a tournament for 10 and 12-Under kids—in September, to be participated by all 51 municipalities.

That will be a first.

And what’s another first? A few years from now, if both groups are successful, we are going to have a UFL team that will have province-wide farm system.

Do you believe in miracles?

I do.

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