Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pitching a pitch for Canduman

(This is the draft of my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu, Dec. 15 issue)
LAST Tuesday, hundreds of students and scores of teachers screamed when Chieffy Caligdong, Ian (pronounced as A-yan) Araneta and Paolo Pascual were in Canduman Elementary School to give away used football shoes—donated by the Albany Creek Excelsior FC of Australia—for the players.

The place was packed, I tell you, as it seems every student, teacher and not a few parents took the chance to meet the three players they only see on TV.

Graeme Mackinnon, who helped bring the three Azkal players to Canduman, said he liked helping the school because like most other public school football programs in the country, they faced financial hardships but the parents, school and the indefatigable coach Jun Santillan never gave up and always looked for a solution.

“These guys are not helpless because they are helping themselves. The parents, teacher are very much involved,” said Graeme.

Last Tuesday, the kids were smiling a lot because they finally got to wear relatively new spikes, not one that has been repaired beyond its lifespan.

But I know one thing that could bring a smile, not just to the kids, teachers and school, but to the whole community as well.

Graeme and Queen City are working behind the scenes to get these kids—and the Canduman community—what they need—a football pitch.

A few years ago, the kids practiced in an abandoned lot—with one half submerged in water, a quarter covered in cow dung—but had to abandon it as the program got bigger.

The kids now train in Consolacion, and some of them jog their way to practice, evading cars and jeeps, while a few lucky ones get to ride with their adopted Tito—Queen City’s Raffy—if he manages to pass them.

A field of their own will be a big boost to a program that has already produced a national player, and to a community that is helping themselves.

Tungod sa football, wala na tawun nagbinuang among mga anak,” one mother told me a few years back.
 

Queen City is willing to provide the heavy equipment and the manpower to level the abandon lot and  transform it to a pitch, what it is only asking in return, is a commitment from the owners to have Canduman use it for at least five years.

However, there is one problem regarding that.  Queen City doesn’t know who owns the lot and can’t start working on it, lest the owners sue them.

But like all problems Canduman has faced so far, I know the parents can find a solution. I hope, too, whoever owns the field sees the value of what the CES elementary team has done, and will see that a football field in the community will do wonders.

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