Monday, October 21, 2013

Fair Play: A busy November for Cebu football

THE Cebu football scene is expected to pick up pace anew with a very busy November. The Aboitiz Football Cup, one of the country’s longest continuous 11-a-side tournaments, will open its 16th edition on Nov. 10 with 14 divisions, including an exclusive one for employees.

From holding just the men’s open when it started, the Aboitiz Cup, bankrolled by the Aboitiz Group, will have the mixed Under 7, Under 9 and Under 11 divisions, and the boys and girls Under 13, Under 15 and Under 18. It will also have the Boys Under 23, the Inter BPO/Inter Company, Ladies Open, Men’s Open and the 38-above division. This year’s tournament, which will be played on weekends, is expected to last until March.



Unless the Cebu Football Association manages to invite David Beckham, I don’t think it can surpass last year’s opening. CFA president Ricky Dakay and Leyte FA president Dan Palami, who also manages the Azkals, are close friends and are just a text message away from gracing one another’s tournament. Last year, Dan told me that he adjusted the Azkals training schedule so they could fly in and honor the invitation of Ricky to attend the opening of the Aboitiz Cup.

And of course, last year also had that historic win by the Philippines over Singapore at the Cebu City Sports Center, whose field became unrecognizable to fans and players who got used to the dust bowl.

For this year, I’ve heard the CFA is considering inviting the Malditas over or hosting a UFL match, but nothing is definite yet, so we’ll just have to wait and see. Whether it’s the Malditas or a UFL match, I’m quite sure it’s going to be a hit.

Aside from the Aboitiz Cup, the school teams will also be preparing for the Cebu City Olympics, which will determine the city’s representatives for the Cviraa meet, and of course, there’s the second edition of the Sun.Star Football Cup.

The football calendar has been synchronized so there won’t be any Aboitiz Cup games during the City Olympics and the Sun.Star Cup, giving the teams the chance to join both tournaments. I remember a time when that wasn’t the case and one team played in two finals of two different tournaments in a two-hour span, resulting to players dropping like flies due to cramps.

Aside from the tournaments, the CFA will also host another AFC C License coach, a few months after hosting one and shouldering the expenses of the participants.

One of the coaches here told me that FAs from other regions are looking forward to seminars conducted by the CFA because it gives them a chance to get those coveted AFC licenses at no expense.

For next month’s seminar, I’ve heard some FAs have been trying to reserve as much as five slots but Cebu-based coaches will get the priority.

There’s another interesting football event scheduled next month, but this won’t be open to everyone.

Graeme Mackinnon, the one-time Global FC coach, will return to Cebu for a reunion with his M. Lhuillier team, the most successful men’s team in local football history, having won the national title in the late 80s.

Some members of the team are now the top coaches in Cebu like Mario Ceniza and Edwin Arganza, while some have become referees, like Randy Estremos, who is now based in Macau.

I wonder what kind of stories these football legends have to share?

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