Monday, August 26, 2013

Fair Play: Football, volleyball show the way in Cesafi

LIKE some fans, I’ve been batting for it for years and finally, the Cesafi has changed its format for the football competition this year.

The previous format was ridiculous. A five-team league playing a single-round robin elimination plus a semifinal outing for the top four.

Under that format, a team can afford to lose most of its matches and still make the final, as in the case of 2010 champion University of Cebu. Also, that unlucky team that fails to make the semis sees its season end after a grand total of four games--not a welcome return on investing in a 20-man team under full scholarship.
Thankfully, that’s all in the past.

This year, the Cesafi tournament—which is managed by the Cebu Football Association—will have a double round robin. Teams now will have twice the number of games they are used to playing. What’s even better is that the Cesafi is doing away with the semifinals, which I have always thought is ridiculous considering there are only five teams.

Instead of a semifinal round, the top two teams will face off for the title, while the Nos. 3 and 4 face off for the third-place trophy. And that, I think, is the perfect way to hold it.

That way, the team that finishes no. 1 in the elimination round is rewarded. Under the old format, there’s no incentive for finishing No. 1, all you have to do is finish
among the top four.

Under the new format, all matches will matter because to get a chance at winning the title, you’d have to be in the top two.

Also, all matches will be at the Cebu City Sports Center, and judging from last year’s final between the University of San Carlos and the University of San Jose-Recoletos, it’s the perfect venue. And do you know what the Cesafi can do to further tweak the format and reward the top team? They can’t give the home court edge to the No. 1 team in the finals as it will be in a neutral venue but what they can for the finals is allow the schoolmates of the top team to get in the venue for free by showing their IDs.

That should be quite an incentive for a football team that hasn’t experienced playing in front of home fans.

Aside from football, the volleyball tournament is also changing its format, and it’s a change that I hope will be adapted by the basketball tournament.

This year, the Cesafi will adopt the home-and-away format and I hope the change will be permanent.

Of course, having the teams play in one venue is easier—logistically and financially—but I think a tournament like Cesafi shouldn’t go for the easy way.

It’s a given that schools invest a lot for their varsities and the only return they get is that publicity when their teams win.

And this home-and-away format will reward the schools for investing on their teams and facilities and of course, playing in front of your home fans can make the difference.

Can you just imagine if the SWU Cobras vs. UV Green Lancers finals series last year was played in a home-and-away format?

The Cesafi is 13 years old already and for the league to grow bigger, the guys running the league has to start thinking out of the box, to get out of their comfort zones.

It used to be that the other events take their cue from basketball but this year, it’s football and volleyball that is showing Cesafi’s center piece event that it’s willing to change.

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