Friday, September 09, 2011

Fair Play: A Cebu club's UFL advantage

This  is my Sun.Star Cebu column for Sept. 10, PLEASE DO NOT POST this article in your websites before Sept. 11. Thanks.---Mike

UNITED Football League clubs like Kaya FC, Loyola Sparks and Global may seem to have all the advantages as it’s been heavily recruiting Azkal players for the new season lately, but even if they all field an all-Azkal lineup, do you know what these clubs will never have?

A regional identity and of course, a regional support.

That’s why a Cebu club that decides to join the UFL has all the advantages, especially if it carries the name Cebu, Queen City of the South or heck, even Queen City United.

Marketing a Cebu club in the UFL is also quite easy. How do you sell Kaya? Or Global? Or even Loyola?

But mention Cebu, what comes first?

Cebu Pacific? Possible. Or those “I love Cebu” shirts of the Island Souvenir group? Interesting, right? Or how about the beaches, hotels or the famous Cebu delicacies?

The possibilities are endless. I think the UFL, too, sees all the possibilities.

And, of course, the UFL now has TV 5 as its TV presentor and that network is just trying to establish its foothold in Cebu, it could be quite supportive of a Cebu UFL club, right?

And, one more thing. When I broke the story of Smart Communication’s P80-million package for Philippine football, I distinctly remember Patrick Gregorio saying that Cebu would be one of the teams that will get supported once a “Smart League is established.” There’s no Smart League but there’s the UFL and Gregorio’s boss, MVP, recently got hold of the Loyola Meralco Sparks, which now has the Younghusband and Hartmann brothers.

If a Cebu team joins the UFL? We might even remind Sir Pato of that promise…

I think a Cebu team in the UFL could even be a game-changer. If, say, Davao, which has a strong football community, sees a successful stint for a Cebu club, they might even think “Hey, if Cebu’s there, how come we aren’t?”

Cagayan or Dumaguete too, might say, “What about us?”

Bacolod and Iloilo? They’ll say “We got here first, but maybe we should change our names to Bacolod and Iloilo?”

And with a few regional teams in the UFL…

The UFL is just a Manila-based league, for now, but even if it plays in the Big City, I don’t think a Cebu-based club will lack support.

Aside from the numerous Cebuanos working in Manila, there are scores of Cebuano footballers who are in Manila schools, who I’m quite sure, would either support the club in the UFL or even try to join it.

 So, the support is there.

The backing is there.

Where to get the future players?

Cebu has a lot of school-based football programs that are producing great players—Canduman, Don Bosco, Springdale and Sacred Heart School—and the Cebu FA is also in the middle of a province-wide grassroots program that could spot potential talents for high school and college teams, or, even a Cebu club in the UFL.

Yep, a Cebu club has all the advantages, but that doesn’t mean joining the UFL is easy, nor will it mean it will be a rosy stint.

There’s that one distinct disadvantage facing a Cebu club, one it has to solve if it decides to take the plunge.

Getting tomorrow’s players won’t be a problem, but how about now?

I believe if we get the top players from Hiroshi FC, Crazy Horse and the Cebu Amateur Football Club, we could have a pretty competitive side.

And if somehow, the club could persuade former national players like Chad Gould, whose mom is from Boljoon, and Leigh Gunn, a cousin of Liloan mayor Duke Frasco and whose mom, too, is from Liloan, we could have a pretty darn good side on paper.

But can they jell?

Can they work together?

Can they pull it off?

I believe a group of men are scrambling to find out.

Just stay tuned.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Its giving me goosebumps mike! I myself might try-out if this pushes through. Weeeeeeeeeeee,Im excited!.. :). Ill stay tune alright.