Sun.Star Cebu and football

TOMORROW marks the 30th anniversary of Sun.Star Cebu, a paper who has been very active in the sports scene since it started.

Orlando Sanchez, the first editor of this section, set the bar high. Too high that up to now, I still hear stories of the things he has done from people in sports who, until now, are still involved.

There's even a trophy named after him--the Orlacsan Award--given to selfless individuals whose support for sports is unparalleled in the annual SMB-Sportswriters Association of Cebu Sports Awards.

Of course, one of the fastest growing sports right now is football, and Sun.Star Cebu, too, has been fortunate enough to have had sports editors who not only loved the game, but also saw it fit to give it the same treatment as basketball and boxing.

Our colleagues used to take it against us--football na sad, they'd say---but now, that support has placed us where we are now, and that culminated to members of the Azkals gracing us the first time we held the Sun.Star Football Cup just last week. 

This didn't start with me, of course.  There was Jack Biantan, a guy whose love for football is rivaled only by his love for lechon. There were Paul Taneo, Jobannie Tabada and Noel S. Villaflor, who, as a columnist was the first to refer to Dan Palami as a visionary (you should check out his Aug. 2010 column).

As for the Azkals--or sinply the national team as we referred to them back in 2000--Sun.Star Cebu has been reporting about their exploits long before most of any Juan knew what an offside is.  

I remember, back in 2000, getting instructions from Jack to call the PFF for updates on our World Cup qualifiers campaign.  In 2002, while the rest paid scant notice, we were writing about our Tiger Cup exploits, an embarrassing one.  And back in December, 2004, Noel me, and Paul--in that order--were inches away from a 14-inch TV, watching Thailand vs. the Philippines in the 2004 Tiger Cup.  Noel and Paul had a disagreement at that time and were barely speaking, but we celebrated as one, when we took the lead in the first half off a Chieffy Caligdong shot.

As for the Azkals, the paper has quite some history.  Back in 2005, we were the first to report about the movement to name the team Azkals and in fact, Noel and another sports correspondent were the one who came up with one of the early logos, one that is still being used, now.

It is a bit ironic that now football is a hit, I no longer go to most of the home games.  Before it was easy to ask permission, there weren't that many home games and they weren't aired live.  Now, why fly all the way to Manila or Bacolod if you can just watch the games on TV?   It’s also hassle-free.

Of course, it’s not only in football that the paper has set its mark.  We made that first step, too, in supporting running, a step that is now being taken in triathlon, volleyball, softball, baseball and other sports that are slowly becoming a hit in Cebu.  

Our reporter in volleyball is experiencing something I had when I was still in the football beat. One of her sources, who gave her some inside scoops, told her he was giving them only to her because, “Sun.Star Cebu is the only one supporting volleyball.”

Tomorrow marks 30 years of Sun.Star Cebu, the most-awarded community paper in the country and though most of the awards are for what the news section and our editors have done, it is statement like those from the volleyball source that tells us, the sports section isn’t doing badly, too.

Here’s to 30 more years of Sun.Star Cebu chronicling exploits of the Cebu sports community.  (And of course, the Azkals)


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