Friday, September 16, 2011

Fair Play: Rooting for Cebu Queen City United

This is my Fair Play column for Sept. 17, written before that darn draw in the UFL Cup.
NOT a few football fans were giddy when the news broke out that Cebu, finally, will have a team in the United Football League—the country’s premier football competition.

Araceli Socorro Estoso, the Blue-Haired Fanatic’s right hand woman,  spent a few minutes pondering whether to cheer for her alma mater or for a team showcasing her roots.

Her tweet, I think, shows how she decided, “Wa na gyud, labanan na ni sa gigikanan!”

Gabriel Abejaron Jr., who said he liked the club name, also asked on Twitter where he could get the Queen City United merchandise and said the team should get Paolo Pascual as keeper.

Now Paolo is under contract with Global FC and although the team owner has promised he will lend the Cebuano to a Cebu team in the UFL, I just learned that if Dan does that, he will have to redefine the meaning of the word “sacrifice.”

But hey, not too long ago, Dan Palami also redefined “faith” so, seeing Paolo in a Cebu team may not be impossibile.

As to Paolo? The young keeper who has earned quite a following already tweeted that he was “so happy Cebu is now forming a team for the UFL.”
 

Whether we will see Paolo in the team or not, I think, will depend on a meeting a few days from now.

Paolo’s former teammate TJ Mateo, who was pointing to the heavens after scoring a penalty kick the last time I saw him, got so boosted by the news he promised he’d get back in shape so he could play again.

Hopefully for Cebu Queen City United under his old coach Mario Ceniza.

“You are my witnesses,” he said in a couple of tweets to me and Paolo, “No. 11 will make his comeback.”

I hope to see No. 11 return too and I think a UFL stint makes for a wonderful motivation to get in shape.

All this, of course, adds pressure to the team, one that basically didn’t exist less than 10 days ago.

So do I see Cebu Queen City United winning the UFL Cup?

Of course not!  That would be too far-fetched. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be wishing for a miracle.

What I hope to see in CQCU is a team that Cebuanos will be proud of, one that doesn’t play dirty and one that doesn’t give up.

I hope, too, that Cebu Queen City United, will indeed, unite the Cebu football community. We’ve been in the outside looking when it comes to matters involving the UFL and now, we finally have a team we can call our own.

Yes, Cebu football is a fractured bunch and there are factions—curiously the leaders of both factions are low profile but their followers aren’t—but this is not about which side of the fence you are sitting.

This is about a Cebu team in the UFL.

This is about Cebuanos in the national stage.

This is about, as what Santi Araneta of the UFL said, setting a trend that the other regions could follow.

Fielding a UFL is no easy feat and fielding a UFL squad with less than a month to identify your players is even tougher. Officers of Cebu Queen City United met Araneta on Sept. 7, and the deadline for the initial lineup was yesterday.

“We’re cramming,” Raffy Musni told me the other week.

The coaching staff, too, had to cram months of preparation into two short weeks.

And coach Mario Ceniza’s assessment of the players being woefully out-of-shape isn’t exactly unexpected.

“Conditioning wise, on a scale of 1 to 10, they are at two or three,” the coach told me the other day.

Aside from that, there’s the manpower problems as some players the club wanted to get are tied up with their college campaign and the players they are getting are busy with their jobs.

But the despite all those odds, the club is plunging, head on.

And that’s why I admire the club officers’ courage.

That’s why we should, too, support the club.

This is our team, the underdogs facing off with our country’s best.

And didn’t we always want to know how we fare against the best?

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