Sunday, August 28, 2011

Fair Play: Do you want to know a secret?

This is my latest Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu
Hey, do you want to know a secret? But do promise that you will tell.

It’s a secret involving a group of guys who, for now, will be known as they-who-won’t-be-named.

But unlike he-who-must-not-be-named, whose dreams involved all sorts of ugly stuff that led folks in the Potterworld to call him by an alias, their dream is for everybody, not just for themselves.

The dream, of course, is a semi-professional football league in the Visayas.
“Kids who play basketball in the streets dream of someday playing in the PBA or even the lower leagues, because they see a future in it.”

The group hopes that someday it will become true for football.

“I hope, someday, the kids will be saying that they want to play football because they see a career in it.”

In Manila, it is becoming true with the Universal  United Football League, which already has a five-year, P150-million deal with TV 5 starting next season.

But funding a Visayas team to join the UFL would be a logistical nightmare, so, for the past few months or so, they have been working in the sidelines to address the need for a Visayas-wide league, one that could even be allied with the UFL.

The target opening? January, 2012.

I first heard of this plan a few weeks ago but I was told, “Don’t write about this yet, Mike.”
“Of course we would support it and we will field a team,” one guy, a potential owner, also told me then.

And two of them have shown they are willing to spend for football, and have done it long before every Juan has heard of  the Azkals.  And I’m not talking about a few hundred thousands, these guys have spent money people dream about winning in the lottery.

“Don’t write about this yet, Mike,” I was reminded, again.

He said he wanted everything to be in place before the story comes out and didn’t want to appear like a politician who gets caught up in announcing big developments but falls short on the follow-up.

And he didn’t want that. The football fan doesn’t deserve anything half-baked.

But things like these deserve to be made known, right? Fans and players in the Visayas deserve to know that something is being cooked for them so that someday, our best players won’t have to travel to Manila to play club football.

Hence, I tried to convince them to allow me to spread the good news and jsut recently, I got the go-ahead to release a few details.

The league will involve teams from Cebu, Bacolod, Dumaguete, Leyte (this is kind of a give-away, right?), Iloilo and Northern Mindanao and there are already prospective owners.

“We want to have the best mechanism possible for the league,” he said. “And this will really complement the grassroots program.”

They hope that the kids who are in the various programs will see the league as a viable career.

“We really want to encourage the kids in the grassroots program, to make football as a career.”

For the league, they want the planning to be as comprehensive as possible and team owners will be armed with the best mechanism for their clubs.  Next up is a meeting with the UFL, who would also be advising the owners how to run their clubs.

“This really needs a careful gestation period,” he said. “Dili ni ningas kugon, this is something for the future.”

And, of course, the big question.

Where in the world will a Cebu team hold its home matches?

There’s the Aboitiz field, of course, or the soon-to-be-refurbished Cebu City Sports Center.
Or, one other field that’s has just been given the go-ahead and another one, that if it pushes through, would have Cebuanos saying Sports Recla…Oops, I forgot, I’m not supposed to write about those stuff, for now.

Oh well.

I can wait.

It will be worth it.


Anonymous said...

Nice article. Great direction for Visayan football. It’s United Football League :)

Anonymous said...

Nice article and great direction for Cebu Football. It’s United Football LEague :)

Mike said...

Thanks and thanks for pointing out error.

It's a nice direction indeed