Friday, June 22, 2012

Fair Play: If PH makes Suzuki semis, Cebu could host home game

(This is the draft of my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu on June 22.)
“THIS is how we do business. We talk about it and we will make it happen,” Dan Palami told me during his dinner with officers of the Cebu Football Association.

I’ve always liked Dan’s visit to Cebu since he always has a lot of news, and he’s never alone. He's always with some footballing guy who's got a story to tell.

This time, he was joined by a German goalkeeping coach whose name I forgot to take.  I wanted to talk to the coach but I got sidetracked, when Dan and CFA president Ricky Dakay started talking about holding Azkals friendlies in Cebu.

“Where’s the pitch?” Dan said. “Last year, when we were here, that was also my question, ‘where’s the pitch.”

Last year, of course, if you presented the Cebu City Sports Center field, you’d probably get dragged to the loony bin.

But now? The field is under renovation and looks lovely.

And guess what, we could have been the host of the Long Teng Cup, which will be in Bacolod.  Tentatively scheduled in the early part of Bacolod, it may be moved a week late, to coincide with the Fifa designated dates so Chinese Taipei can send their A-team.

And those dates may coincide with Bacolod’s Masskara festival, which will be at Panaad, so having Cebu host it was briefly discussed. (But I think if Bacolod’s planners will be sports tourism savvy, they’d figure a way to make the Long Teng Cup part of the festival.)

But that discussion quickly ended when Dan talked about the Nov. 15 friendly.

Cebu hosting an Azkals match?

Can you believe it?


Better still that you should be there.

“I think filling the stands would be the least of our concerns,” Ricky Dakay said.

And I think he’s right.

What’s left, of course, is the pitch, would it be renovated and who would be willing to pay the cost, projected at P1.8 million?

Well, if you have one guy who’s willing to shoulder half the expenses, talking to another guy who drops P250,000, for airfare alone, for a match that was postponed and for which they already spent P90,000? 

What was the question again?

Oh, yes, can we fill up the soon-to-be 12,000-seater CCSC stadium?  

We should, and you should if you want to watch the Azkals play in the semifinals of the 2012 Suzuki Cup.

Yes, the planned home game is part of the preparation for the Suzuki Cup, but this is what Dan promised.

“If the response to the Nov. 15 friendly will be great and if we make the semifinals of the Suzuki Cup, which is home and away, we can have it in Cebu,” Dan said. “We will make it happen.”

That’s a lot of ifs, but hey, that “if” is a whole lot better than saying, “If I win the lotto, I will watch the Azkals in the Suzuki Cup.”

So, shall we fill up the CCSC grand stand come Nov. 15?

And for those fans who are not from Cebu, there are various hotels and pension houses—ranging from P5,000 a night to P250—which are five to 10 minutes’ walk to the CCSC or a 30-minute cab ride, in traffic.

So, footie fans, why not block your calendar this November?

Oh, in case you start booking your flights, don’t. Nov. 15, is a Thursday and they were talking about moving it to Nov. 17, a Saturday, for the fans.

But I don’t think that’s necessary. A 7 p.m. match in a venue in the heart of the city, and on average, can be reached in an hour through public transportation from most schools and offices?

I didn’t get to point that out, of course. I just sat there, listening to Dan and Ricky, while thinking, a year ago, Cebu didn’t even have a decent pitch.

Now, we’re talking about an Azkal friendly and a home game in the Suzuki Cup in Cebu?

I just can’t stop grinning.

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