Saturday, May 10, 2014

Fair Play: USC and Pacquiao, fantastic and fantastical

THE first time I saw the University of San Carlos football stadium under construcsion was about two years ago, when it was nothing but a vast empty space carved out of two hills.

It was pretty hard to reconcile that chasm with the faded diagram of the stadium that was posted just before you get to it. But from that bird’s eye view that I had, it was really quite impressive.

Now, two years later, I saw a picture of the stadium, this time it was half-finished.

You could see the grandstand on one side, and a lush greenery on the other, which seems to suggest, “If you get bored of the game, then take on the scenery.
(Photo shared on Facebook, taken by Jun Rebayla)

There seem to be no seats behind the goal area and I remember then USC vice president Fr. Vic Uy, who has since move to Bohol, telling me that the stadium would be patterened after the one they saw in Australia during the Arafura Games. That stadium had a grandstand in one side, and the other side was covered with grass, with the crowd just sitting on the greenery to enjoy the match.

With such a stadium, USC has put itself ahead of all other schools in the country. I mean, which other school in the country can proudly say it has a stadium of its own?

And of course, having such facility puts pressure on the school’s football team. You have a stadium and your team can’t even win the local collegiate league?

I believe that’s being addressed right now, with the alumni stepping in to help the college team.

Mario Ceniza, himself a USC alumni and one of the greatest players to come out of Cebu, will be the head coach of the collegiate team and has been conducting several tryouts to form this year’s squad. Always a no-nonsense coach, Mario is doing the tryouts this early and I’ve been told, members of the previous varsity won’t enjoy any seniority as everyone—including the players Mario prevously coached—have to start from scratch.

As local football fan Eric Nacorda said, with QCU and the alumni helping USC, Erco and the BRO group helping the University of Cebu, plus of course, the winningest collegiate team in Cebu, the University of San Jose-Recoletos with its ever present alumni, this year’s college race will be one for the ages.

And it’s just going to be the start.

Who will win? Of course, as a USC alumni, I’ll be rooting for the Warriors. Yes, they used to be called the Golden booters, a name that fell out of favor from editors because using it leaves no room for anything else in the headline. Besides, USC teams—not just the college teams—are known for the Warriors nickname, better to have one for all teams, right?

The USC Stadium’s construction comes at a time when the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex pitch got transformed using artificial grass, and the Iglesia Ni Kristo stadium up north gets finished. Also, the Panaad Park and Stadium in Bacolod also just got refurbished for the AFC President’s Cup, giving the PFF four venues to chose from should it choose to hold a friendly or bid for a tournament.

Fun times indeed.

WILL PACQUIAO GET THAT RESPECT? So Manny Pacquiao will be joining the PBA as a playing coach. At first, I thought, it was just a belated April Fools Day joke. But it seems it’s not.

Manny plays a lot of basketball during his training and I’ve seen some clips of it online. But the PBA is the PBA, where some who play ball every day for years don’t even make the cut.

Manny’s good, I’ve been told, but in all of his scrimmages here, I was told, he got more than the usual room to do his thing because of “respect.”

Not the kind of respect one shows to a veteran, but rather the type that one fan shows to a boxer in training.

“We let him shoot, of course. You don’t want to be the one to injure him while his training, would you?”

Will he get the same respect in the PBA? Or will he get a “This-is-the-real-thing, welcome-to-the-PBA!” kind of respect.

As veteran sports commentator Chito Trinidad says, let’s see how this circus goes.

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