Saturday, January 17, 2015

Fair Play: Proud products of Cebu football

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Jan. 17 edition)
TWO of the kids I used to cover in the age group football in Cebu are making the Cebu football community proud by doing well in Manila’s collegiate scene.

Though both play different positions and come from two local rival schools, they’ve had similar struggles with injuries before making it big in the Manila scene.



Miguel Caindec, formerly of Don Bosco, has taken his prodigous scoring abilities to the San Beda Red Lions and after an initial setback with a major ACL operation in 2011, he’s been a regular figure in the starting lineup of the Lions who are on course to win their fourth straight NCAA title.

Among their latest victims was College of St. Benilde and Miguel, whose last game I covered was a loss in the Palarong Pambansa back in 2007, when they played five games in the final three days. Miguel scored the second in their 3-0 win against a team which had his former Don Bosco teammate, Val Calvo, who incidentally, has been sidelined by an injury the past few months.

CSB also has Cebuanos Dean Ebarle, Jake Vicen and Carmelo Genco in the lineup.

Miguel’s proud mom Marites, a regular fixture during his Palaro days, said her son might stay for a fifth year and take a second course in San Beda to maximize his playing years.

Aside from that, Miguel’s exemplary play hasn’t gone unnoticed by the United Football League clubs and some have sent feelers, but so far, all of them have been turned down.

Another Cebuano who’s doing well is central defender Nico Villacin, who is now Coach Hans Smit’s steady presence in De La Salle University’s back line.

Like Miguel, Nico had to deal with an injury on his rookie year but since then, he has improved steadily that one website even named him one of the best central defenders in the league.

Here’s what the Tiebreaker Times say of Nico, “Out of the many center backs in the league, Villacin stood out in 2014. If not for him, La Salle may arguably no longer sport an unbeaten record...”

His dad Stanley, whose life as a goalkeeper may have been easier had he benefited from a defender like his son, is proud not because of what his son has achieved but because he knows what it took for him to be at this level.

“It’s his dedication and commitment that I admire because he has to wake up at 4 a.m. every day to practice until 9:30...attend school at 10:30 until six...his knees are now OK, but he carried that injury for more than a year.”

Stanley said he has always told his son that when it comes to studies and football, studies come first and so far, the sophomore BS Entrepreneurship student is doing well despite dealing with all the responsibilities a student athlete have and having a full load.

And I hope for this year, Miguel will lead San Beda to another title, and Nico’s steady play in defense will help DLSU unseat FEU because their continued success will open more doors to Cebuano footballers.

For a time, active recruitment of Cebuano footballers by Manila schools was nonexistent. Though there were a few visits by Manila coaches in previous years, if the two keep playing the way they play, Manila coaches will make a beeline for Cebu to out-recruit each other for the best graduating high school footballers.

Some coaches may see that as piracy, but for me, it’s not. The graduating class should get as many opportunities to choose from as they can and guys like Miguel, Nico and the rest of the Cebuanos who are also playing in the Manila collegiate leagues are showing that a stint in the Big Capital is a viable option.

That’s why Cebu football is proud of them.


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