Monday, October 06, 2014

Fair Play: How about women's football in Cesafi?

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Oct. 6 issue)
WHAT happened to the University of San Carlos men’s football team? I saw the Warriors semifinal encounter against former champion University of Cebu, which beat them in the group stage, and they seemed like a team transformed.

To say that they played a beautiful game was an understatement. Despite the muddy field that rendered the field close to unplayable, their passing game was nothing short of brilliant. Their goal even came from a play that started with the keeper, and six passes later that left the UC defense scrambling, John Arizabal ran to the bench to celebrate that magnificent piece of teamwork.



They could have added at least two more, but one attempt hit the bar, while in another instance, the keeper mishandled the ball and it landed straight to a USC striker just a foot from an open goal. However, a UC defender was quicker to react and he managed to clear the ball.

Despite the loss, UC was impressive too, never giving up until the final minute.

Though the Webmasters was beckpedaling most of the second half, late in the match they managed to get two clear chances but missed by inches.

So it’s off to the finals again for USC, which lost to the USJ-R Jaguars last year.

Not bad for a team that revamped its lineup and is under a new coaching staff. They will face the winner of the other semis match between USJ-R and USPF, which was postponed to early yesterday as the rains rendered the field unplayable last Saturday.

I got the first semifinal prediction correct and if my luck holds, it could be a USPF vs. USC final today. (As usual, I wrote this before the game due to deadline concerns.)

By the way, someone suggested that perhaps it’s time for Cesafi to include women’s football in their calendar of events and I think that it’s a valid suggestion.

It’s about time.

Unlike other places, which picked up only after the Azkals’ rose to prominence, girls football in Cebu has been active for more than a decade already. In fact, more girls are into football than in any other sport here. A lot of Cebuana players too make the national youth teams, a testament to the skills of the girls footballers.

Unfortunately, they are only limited to the age group divisions or the festivals as there is no collegiate competition for them. Last year, girls football was included in the Milo Little Olympics, while the Department of Education included futsal for girls in its athletic competitions.

The next logical step? Girls football in the Cesafi.

It doesn’t even have to be the full 11-a-side version and the Cesafi could start with a nine-a-side format. If you have girls playing football in college intrams, then surely a school can come up with a team.

And coming up with this would be a great advantage for Cesafi because you’re going to have schools that aren’t active with men’s football--or team sports--join. Schools like Velez College and Cebu Doctors’ University joining schools like the University of San Carlos, University of San Jose-Recoletos and the University of Cebu.

Girls are already playing football in high school and they have so for years. These girls won’t be in high school forever, and I think next year is the perfect time for Cesafi to come up with a girls competition. Coming up with the teams is easy, before the girls competition in the Aboitiz Cup opens, the coaches could meet up, come up with the list of players in the division--and the Cesafi schools--they go to and if it’s enough for for even a four-team competition, they could then meet with Cesafi to discuss having girls football in college.

It’s a competition that is long overdue.

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