Fair Play: Busy stretch for Cebu football

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Oct. 4 issue)
IT WAS fun seeing Marbel FC in the Group D qualifiers of the PFF Smart Cup at the Cebu City Sports Center last Wednesday. Though they lost, I saw some familiar faces--and familiar plays.

I grew up in Polomolok, South Cotabato, which is just 45 minutes away from Marbel, and our towns share quite a rivalry which had an unfortunate streak spanning three years that saw at least one player get seriously hurt.

Football in our province can compete in the age group level with Cebu, not so in the men’s open division as there are simply not enough competition available where they can level up. And it was kind of weird that 16 years removed from high school, I could still predict what Marbel would opt for; like that instance when the UC Erco winger got clipped from behind. A few moments before that, winger Diomar Caruscay clipped a Marbel player, and sure enough he got a dose of his own medicine in the next play.

In another play, the goalkeeper stopped Rene Menchavez with a hit to the shin--nowhere near the ball--and earned a penalty for his trouble. A move that reminded me of a coach’s warning to strikers then, “When in doubt, jump, they’d go for your shin. (The warning came after one striker got his shin broken in two places after a similar move.)

I guess, some things don’t change.

By the way, that match between Erco and Marbel was just one of the two group eliminations Cebu City is hosting, the other being Group E. Laos FC, which routed the ABC All-Stars the other day, looks headed to clinch that group. The final group matches were yet to be played as I write this.

Aside from that, the two group qualifiers, Cebu also hosted a coaching course for the Asian Football Confederation C License and a seminar for referees. Of course, later this month, the FCB Escola camp will be held in Cebu and with the end of the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. season, come the non-school based leagues.

Quite a schedule, right?

But, if what I heard is right, things could get pretty busy in Cebu.

If UC Erco wins Group D, that means Cebu will have one team in the PFF Smart Club national championships and I heard that some in the Philippine Football Federation wants the quarterfinal round of the national finals held here.

Now that would be something.

Aside from the winners of the five Groups, three teams from Manila’s United Football League would be playing in the national finals and if we are to follow the pattern, it could be Global, Loyola and Kaya.

Ceres and Stallion FC, both in Division 1 of the UFL, are also in the quarterfinal round through the qualifiers and having these five teams in Cebu would be a treat for the football fans.

Money won’t be problem since Smart is bankrolling this tournament, which is part of their P80 million pledge for Philippine football about three years ago.

The only question that remains is would the Cebu City Sports Center be available for this?

And oh, lest I forget, also set to happen late next month is the attempt by members of the BPO football community to play 101 hours of non-stop football. Like I said, the local scene is getting busier, and that’s just wonderful.


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