Sunday, November 04, 2012

Fair Play: Re-marketing the Aboitiz Cup

THE Aboitiz Football Cup, the premier football tournament in Cebu City, has lost its luster the past few years, and the Cebu Football Association (CFA) is trying to revive it back to its former status.

There's really no one major reason why the Aboitiz Cup has become what it is, and the slide could be blame to a number of factors--the factionalism that hit Cebu football, the change of venue and the snub by local media among others.

I guess, one of the lowest points of the Aboitiz Cup was the Springdale forfeit issue, because it capsulizes the problems of the tournament.  There was a clash of schedule and teams--not only Springdale--sometimes chose to ignore their Aboitiz Cup matches and play in these festivals.

"Sayun-sayunon ra man pag forfeit ang Aboitiz Cup kay muduwa ug festivals," was the usual complaint I hear.

And the clash of schedules was one of those reasons.

And as for the Springdale issue, it only got reported when the team was banned for three years, and not during the incident itself, which shows the level of attention the event gets from the football beat.  

When I started as a correspondent in 1997 for another paper, during Aboitiz Cup days, I'd be at the venue from the first game up to the last, but that was because I wanted to and there weren't any other options, too.  In these days of e-mailed press releases, websites that show results and instant communication between sources and reporters, the reality has changed.  

These are issues the CFA has to deal with and their first move was the synch to the calendar of tournaments to make sure there will be no conflicts and teams no longer have to choose between festivals and the Aboitiz Cup.

There second move is this Sunday, and they have planned a four-hour fiesta to launch the tournament at the Aboitiz Sports Field. 

It will start at 1:20 p.m., and end at 5 p.m. and it won't be the usual opening ceremony featuring a parade and a boring speech from a politician.

Instead, it will be a day of mini-contests--juggling, throw-ins, slaloms, accurate kicks--and there' also going to be a competition for the longest goal and head-to-head volleyball.  The prizes will be tickets for the Philippines vs. Singapore game on Nov. 15.

There won't be any 11-a-side match this Sunday, but it will be just a day of fun in the sun.

The CFA didn't do away with the parade and speech though, as the affair will start with a simple parade before all the fun and the speech will be made by Dan Palami---the look on his face when he learned that he was supposed to speak this Sunday was priceless.

And of course, the special guests this Sunday? The Azkals!

Nov. 11 was supposed to be the end of the team's mini-camp in Manila and that schedule has been thrown out.  And the Azkals—and their handlers who have other things planned for Nov. 11--have the CFA to blame as the group managed to twist Dan's arm so he'd  agree to letting the Azkals arrive early for the Aboitiz Cup.

Of course, one of hurdles the CFA has to face if it plans to re-market the Aboitiz Cup is the venue itself.  It seems only players and coaches are willing to go there and the fan reception of the Cesafi finals between USJ-R and USC—the biggest crowd for a local event that I’ve ever seen since 1997 shows friends, girlfriends (and boyfriends?) would troop to a footie match if it’s at the Cebu City Sports Center.

What if the CFA will hold the eliminations at the Aboitiz Sports field and the semis and finals at the CCSC?  Imagine the crowd for a full day of knockout action?

That would be something.

That, I think, would be a refurbished Aboitiz Cup.

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