Monday, November 19, 2012

Fair Play: Craig's Street Child World Cup dreams

CRAIG Burrows, a tireless Englishman with a Filipino heart who has spent most of his life here in the Philippines, helping under-privileged children, was in Cebu for the Nov. 15 Singapore vs. Philippines friendly, together with  his photographer Mark Ypon.


Aside from covering the game, Craig, who manages the Philippine team to the Street Child World Cup, also wanted to meet the guys running Don Bosco Boys Home to partner up with the institution that has long helped under-privileged kids to form a Philippine team.

And, just minutes after we met last Nov. 14--just hours actually, after Craig and Mark checked in a hotel in Ramos, they got robbed, by street kids.

Ironic, isn't it?  The very same kids Craig has spent most of his life to help.  It was a very organized robbery, I was told.

Craig, who is no stranger to these things because some of the former street kids he helped in Manila have given him tips on how these things go, was overwhelmed.  Some grabbed both his hands, while another--an adult--went straight for his pocket.

All were caught, thankfully, because cops where near where it happened.

But Craig is Craig.  He told the very same kids, who were turned over to DSWD, that they should take up football.  Who knows? They might even make the very same team he is trying to form for the Street Child World Cup in 2014 in Brazil!

As for the adult who was part of the gang, well, his is a different story.

Speaking of security breaches, I think Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama should be thankful that security was quite lax for the Singapore vs. Philippines game.  I saw the mayor sitting a few meters away from the team benches, and I know that area--which is where the players pass during halftime, should be cleared of all non-officials.  Imagine the embarrassment had the match commissioner insist on calling security to have the whole area cleared.

But I am glad, though, that unlike most public appearances by an official, the mayor's presence wasn't acknowledged over the PA system, as that would have been a huge black eye in a game that earned positive reviews.  The PA announcement would be heard over live TV, and those who watched the match on TV--almost 100 percent of whom, where all praises for the crowd--would be reacting negatively had that happened.  And I’m sure, there would be a few boos, too.

Still, I'm glad that Mayor Mike was able to watch the game, and feel the passion of the fans.  When Marwin Angeles scored, like all fans, he was up on his feet, celebrating.

And that's what Cebu football--and perhaps, Cebu sports--needs, a head of an LGU who has felt such passion from the fans and be moved by it.

It took a private group--the CFA--to make the Singapore vs. Philippines friendly happen.

Just imagine how much more the Cebu football community can stand to gain, if we have Mayor Mike Rama's full support?

Because of the success of the hosting, the bigwigs of Philippine football are talking about having more friendlies here, next year.  They are so impressed that they even want two in February next year!  But, that shouldn't be the target, what should be is the 2014 Challenge Cup.

Right now, it's between the Maldives and Philippines.  And if we win it, it means at least three Azkals games--five if we make it past the group stage.

It would be the biggest football event to hit the country.

And it could happen right in our own backyard.

Aside from being credited as knowledgeable, the crowd during the Nov. 15 game was credited, too, for its behavior.  When some spilled over the field after the game, and the announcer asked them to leave the pitch, they did.

“Sa Manila, di yan mangyayari,” I was told.



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