Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Fair Play: Rufus joins the Azkals bandwagon

(This is the draft of my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu on April 12)
TWO years ago, news about congress appropriating P300 million for a football stadium would have met with praises, now, only raised eyebrows greet the news.

To be honest, I don’t expect much from the move because for one, Rufus Rodriguez initiated it. This from the guy who, when the sentiment was Oscar dela Hoya would beat the living daylights out of Manny Pacquiao, asked Congress to stop the fight.

Is P300 million enough for a new stadium? I don’t know, but it could be if we based it on the P250-million values of the venues for the Palarong Pambansa that become white elephants a day after the meet ends.

Besides, do we need a 75,000-seater stadium when we can’t even fill 15,000-seater Rizal for a David Beckham or Malaysia game?

But if Rufus really wants to spend P300 million, there are better ways to do it to support football and “bring back the glory days of football in the Philippines like in the 70's and the 80's when the Philippine football team was among the strongest in Asia.

A third of the P300 million should go to the renovations of the University of Makati, Rizal Memorial Stadium, Panaad and Paglaum.  The first two are the most abused fields in Manila and we need the four pitches if ever the country bids for the AFC Challenge Cup. 

The PFF spent some P8 million for the new seats in Rizal, spending the same for Panaad, plus increasing the capacity to a comfortably-seated 30,000 from the current guestimate of 20,000 crammed like sardines, should be enough.

Half of the P300 million is better spent for new pitches all over the country, not stadiums, so kids who want to play the game will have a venue. It doesn’t even have to be a football-only pitch, just one of those wide green spaces where kids can play all sorts of ball games they want and imagine.

Another P30 million should go to the PFF, as government aid if ever it bids for the AFC Challenge Cup and the final P20 million to the Armed Forces of the Philippines. 

Why the AFP?  The recent Azkals phenomenon has overlooked the fact that for years, it was the AFP who helped spur football in the country, by putting up teams of enlisted men from the national teams.  Now, the Air Force, P Navy, and P Army, cannot compete for the top players in their UFL stint.  Infusing them with funds would be a boost and a reward.

These are all options that can be done, now, and for me, these are all better than spending P300 million for a stadium we won’t see until the next elections.

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