Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fair Play: Cebu eyed as Challenge Cup host?

TO MY non-Cebuano friends, perhaps you should start practicing these simple phrases, "Sa San Carlos bay…metro ta 'noy...usa ka set bay, kanang bugnaw."

I had no idea when the inspection by the Philippine Football Federation officials for the Cebu City Sports Center field was supposed to be last Saturday, so, I just tried my luck and went there at 2 p.m.

I missed it, of course, but, I got some juicy bits from the folks who were present during the inspection.

The field's OK and needs just some minor adjustments.  Ricky Ballesteros said they've also identified the designated dressing rooms, officials quarters and media room.  I also suggested that instead of putting the media section at the grandstand,  to put the reporters in the badminton area, just beyond the goal line since that could accommodate 200 reporters or more.

Unlike what I experienced at Rizal Memorial Stadium for the Kuwait vs. Philippines home game, the reporters won’t be crammed, everyone would have ample room, and a desk for their laptops. And for the nervous types, they can spend time puffing away their nervousness in the badminton court. 

But that's not what the most interesting thing I heard that Saturday.

It seems they were inspecting the field not just for the Nov. 16 tournament but for an even bigger one.

"They also mentioned a bigger tournament, one week, not just one day," Ballesteros said.

And stupid me assumed they briefly disccussed the Paulino Alcantara cup, which Bacolod will host next month.  That tournament, was offered to Cebu during the initial discussions that led to the Nov. 16 friendly, but that didn't push through because of the limited time.

It turns out that "bigger tournament" wasn't the Paulino Alcantara Cup, but, guess this, the Challenge Cup.

Yes sir, yes ma'am, the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup, the tournament where the Philippines won its first football medal.

"So the Nov. 16 game will serve as a test for the Challenge Cup hosting," Ballesteros said.

Would it be for the qualifiers or the Challenge cup finals itself? Both of which, the PFF plans to bid on?  I have no idea, but a four-team qualifiers could be the perfect next step for Cebu.

We have the Cebu City Sports Center field and the soon-to-be-finished University of San Carlos Football Stadium.  Practice venues? No problem!  We have the Don Bosco field in Liloan, the Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu field and the Aboitiz Sports Field and all three are easy to secure.

Best of all, Cebu's got all the hotels and there are direct international flights--our distinct advantages over Bacolod--and after the Nov. 16 game, I hope we can all say that we have the crowd support, too.

The CCSC field is perfect for visting fans, within a 20-minute walking distance of the venue, there are hotels and pension houses of all types--from the seedy ones, to the brand new ones, to the Crown towers.  Take your pick. (Next week, I'll come up with a list, with all the necessary details for those fans who want to book their rooms).

And it's Cebu, fans who want to do a lot of non-footie related activites before or after the game can have their fill.

So, my dear friends, please practice this--"Sa San Carlos bay.. metro ta 'noy...usa ka set bay, kanang bugnaw."

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