Monday, December 01, 2014

Fair Play: Are you ready for (lots of) football?

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Dec. 1 edition)
AFTER a lull for a few months, the Cebu football community enters its busiest stretch for the year.

There was the 3rd Sun.Star Cup last week, and then Gabrielle’s Symphony and another football festival after that and then of course, comes Cebu’s biggest tournament--and one of the Philippines biggest and longest-running--the Aboitiz Football Cup.

Of course, aside from the tournaments, there’s the attempt by the BPO football community to set the world-record for the longest-football match in the world. They will play at San Roque Parish for 101 straight hours starting on Dec. 2.

And in 2015, the new year will start with the Sinulog Cup in January and then Cebu’s longest-running and biggest football festival, the Thirsty Cup in February.

As for the Aboitiz Cup, there were some concerns within members of the community that the event , now on its 17th year, won’t push through this year but I learned that the Cebu Football Association didn’t issue any invitations as they waited for Aboitiz to confirm that it will hold its tournament anew.

Why the wait? You have to remember that the company has transferred its corporate headquarters to Manila, with only a token presence left in Cebu, so this move to extend the Aboitiz Cup, judging from what happened last year, is commendable.

I think this is the longest non-school based, seven-a-side tournament in the country.

In Cebu, its three years older than the school-based Cebu School Athletic Foundation Inc. and in the Philippines, it has lasted longer than the storied Coke-Go-For Goal and Adidas tournaments.

But unlike the Coke and Adidas tournaments--which has helped discover the talents who would go on to play for the national teams--the Aboitiz Cup is massive as it caters to all age groups. The Coke event was for the Under 16s, while Adidas was for the Under 19. In the Aboitiz Cup, they start with the Under 7s, all the way up to the problematic 38-above division.

Why problematic? Ask the players themselves. Sometimes, when the body is already a second or two too late in deciphering what the brain wants to do, tempers fly and the infractions of yesteryears are replayed.

“Hantud karun, naniguwang na lang ta, inga-ana gyapun ka muduwa?” That’s a common statement.

But I’m digressing. The Under 7 and Under 9 division will play a seven-a-side tournament, and the Under 9 and Under 13--based on the PFF grassroots guidelines--will follow the 9-a-side format.

So too will the Inter BPO and Inter Company divisions, not because they are grassroots, but because some are hard-pressed to come up with 11-a-side squads.

The rest of the divisions--Boys and Girls Under 15, Under 18, Boys Under 23, Ladies and Men’s Open and the 38-above--will follow the 11-a-side format.

All these tournaments show how active and vibrant the Cebu community is, that some teams from neighboring provinces, including football-hotbed Bacolod, are knocking on the doors of the Cebu Football Association to get invitations for the tournaments here.

They got the field and the infrastructure and all but they don’t have this active support from the private sector that Cebu has, which has led to a mushrooming number of tournaments.

So, welcome to Cebu football’s busy stretch. Let’s enjoy the ride.



Wilfred Labidez said...

You have so many tournaments but pitches and stadiums are not well maintained. How can you held one of azkals league if your facility is too small for international competitions. You can't even compete in the ufl because of no sponsors. So cebu football will be only for cebu.

Mike Limpag said...

Hi Wilfred, what Azkal league did you mean? Yes, we don't have that many stadium and pitches, because the one we have--Cebu City Sports Center--is used for a lot of non-sport activities.

That's going to change, though, with the opening of the 8,000-seater USC stadium.

But I'd take an overused facility like the CCSC over any white elephant that only gets used once, say a Palarong Pambansa hosting?

Cebu, did, compete in the UFL for two seasons, flying in players week in, week out. Thanks to the deep pockets of one man. But now, they are just waiting for the national league to start so they can return to national competition.

As to the Azkals home matches, we hosted three--the last two were international friendlies at CCSC. Dilapidated as it is, the pitch can be spruced up given the time.

Cebu football isn't only for Cebu--why are you so parochial?--because to grow, you have to welcome other influences. That's why coaching, referees seminars in Cebu always include non-Cebuanos.

But that post about Cebu football on a blog about Cebu football, was for Cebu football fans who want to know about the upcoming tournaments here.

But thanks for reading, too. I hope you'd get to compete in a Cebu tournament in the future.