Fair Play: Why Cebu should adopt beach volleyball as its sport

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's May 17 edition)
I HAD a chance meeting my friend Chad Cañares the other week and the former publicist for ALA Boxing turned vice mayor of Bantayan told me of his sports plans for his municipality.

Even before he became a politician, Chad, who also owns a mean jump shot, has been also busy getting young kids in his town to try boxing.

Now, that he is in public office, and politicians who are genuinely for sports development are rare, Chad said he is trying to set up grassroots sports for the town, which we all know has been severly hit by Yolanda a few months back.

I told Chad that perhaps Bantayan could make a push for beach volleyball since the northern town is known for its beaches.

And with the Cebu Volleyball Association shifting its focus from women's volleyball to beach volleyball, the town can readily tap the group for help.

And then of course, he can always ask Cebu City Sports Commission chairman Ed Hayco for advice and even perhaps borrow Philippine Sports Commission beach volleyball consultant Eric Lecain, who has made Cebu his home.

Why Ed and Eric? Years ago, before the two of them came into the sports scene, we've always thought that the Cebu beach volleyball players were at par, or if not, better than the rest. I thought of that, too, after seeing the national team in the Southeast Asian Games and covering one of Cebu's triumph in the national finals of the Nestea Beach Volleyball scene.

When Eric and Ed came in, that Cebu is the best in the country's beach volleyball scene is no longer an idea but a fact.

I think Cebu even started a shift in the Philippine National Games, when a couple of Cebu teams made it all the way to the finals, beating the national team handedly in the process. Those national teams were disbanded and Cebu earned the right to represent the country in international competitions.

Would a beach volleyball program in Bantayan be a huge success?

Of course, we won't know. But I think that is better than no program at all, right?

And there's no harm in trying? I do hope Ceva, Ed and Eric can help Chad should he decide to push through with it and if it pushes through, I'm hopeful it would be the start of a great partnership because the four share something in common--they are not after credit but after the growth of the sport and the opportunities it give to the underpriviledged.

Who knows? If the program takes off in Bantayan, the other towns would see its benefit and copy it, extending the opportunity to the residents of their towns as well.

When that happens, the beach volleyball scene in Cebu will change.

CRUCIAL CHANGE IN THE LINEUP. The Philippines will open its campaign in the AFC Challenge Cup on Tuesday and some are already saying we are the favorites to win the title.

I won't go that far because before we talk about titles, we have to get out of the group stage first.

There have been quite a few surprises in the lineup for this year's team, primary of course is the absence of Javier Patino. That came as a surprise since I've been told that Phil Younghusband might have to sit the first game due to yellow cards in the qualifiers.

Would this be the year we finally win a major title? I don't know. But I think the most crucial change in the lineup that was done to make that possible was not one that was made a few days ago but the one that was made in January.

See you all at "class time" on May 20.


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