Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fair Play: Paolo Pascual pays it forward

(This is my draft for my Fair Play for Sun.Star Cebu's March 30 issue)
THE Pascual family is beaming with pride these days, not because of what Paolo is doing now in his football career, but of the way how this young man turned out to be.

He continues to stay humble and focused, and doesn't let the trappings of his being a footballer in the UFL and the national team get into his head (as one kababayan said it, "Doc, kung ako si Paolo, kada lugar naa nay uyab).

And now, the young man is planning to put up a goalkeeping clinic for young Cebuano keepers to share what he has learned in his stint with the Azkals.  A very commendable move since what most of the keepers here in Cebu lack--as what Paolo himself experienced--is advanced goalkeeping training.

Based on what his dad Joel told me, Paolo plans to keep the clinic small, just six to eight guys, thus making the sessions more meaningful. However, for now, these are just plans as Paolo's number one goal is to rest and recover from his injury.

By the way, his injury reminded me of the time when I "accidentally" kicked the family jewels of the goalie in a coke-go-for-goal semifinals. Fearing a red card, I held on to my knee and put on the best acting job I could and the ref, who I think is now one of our Fifa-licensed officials, bought it.

I'm not saying, of course, that Chieffy was milking it and that he wanted to intentionally hurt Paolo. In my case, I had no intentions to hurt the keeper, all I saw was the ball, the goal, and wrongfully assumed I was quick enough to beat the keeper. 

Paolo's injury isn't the first, and it surely wouldn't be the last in the UFL, because players react differently in 50-50 situations, especially those involving a keeper.

But I'm glad that the clash has raised concerns for players’ safety in the league, because they need it. After Paolo, another guy got injured, in what was euphemistically described as a "head to elbow" collision. 

I asked Ritchie Gannaban of the UFL what their plans are regarding these incidents, he said, "For incidents of violence, the UFL ex-comm must first establish a disciplinary committee who will look into these. The committee must be headed by a lawyer with at least two other members, who must not be affiliated with any club nor with the FA/UFL."

I think that's a laudable move because the UFL needs it.  One of the ugly side of airing UFL matches live is seeing dirty plays, flopping and the usual shenanigans you see.  Guys, you're on TV, there's instant replay and we see you!

And man, some of them aren't good examples for kids who are learning the game.  I remember, once, Sepp Blatter blaming the stars who fall at the slightest touch for teaching a generation of floppers and appealing that they help promote fair play, instead of fair flops.

These things happen in football but that doesn’t mean we should do nothing about it. 

As to the UFL, I hope the same thing happens.  I hope the disciplinary committee gets formed, pronto.  And I hope incidents that involve a player getting injured--even if these are not called fouls and doesn't get into the match report as in the case of the "head to elbow" collision--gets automatically reviewed.

What I like about the league is that officials don’t have that air—we know what we are doing and don’t question us—and listen to fans’ concerns because a few years ago, guys like Ritchie and Santi were ordinary fans, just like us who decided to start a league.

The UFL is on unchartered waters because we never had a league like this.  Some players, I think, forget where they are playing now, and go for those old-school fouls and dirty tricks that sometimes are captured on camera, so sending an early message that you cannot do these stuffs in the league, might help curb it.

Then, we kept saying it’s time to improve how officials treat the sport and they have, tremendously, and I say, it’s time, too, for players to improve the way they treat it and leave those old-school-dirty- machismo-driven dirty plays in the dust bin. And the flops, too. (Unless they are as hilariously good as Mick Pennissi’s)



1 comment:

BadLeftFoot said...

Bai Mike,
Regarding your comment "Guys, you're on TV, there's instant replay and we see you!", that needs to be reiterated to the players. They are not just players anymore, they are now performers, just like tv and movie actors. One of the rule of thumb on being on lie camera I read before (I am no TV or movie actor, so don't hold me on this) is no scratching those body parts where the sun don't shine or picking your nose. Heck, maybe our UFL folks might even need a TV or movie consultant now to make the "show" a better product. Go Azkals.
- Mr. Badleftfoot