Thursday, February 26, 2015

Fair Play: A worrying trend in Cebu football

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Feb. 23 edition)
THOUGH organizers this year have limited the number of entries, the 12th edition of the Thirsty Cup is still Cebu’s biggest football festival, attracting close to 200 teams.

This year’s tournament also attracted a strong contingent of teams outside Cebu, and it’s great that new players come in and test the local opposition, to see how we fare against them.

So far, we are doing well and Ray Calo of Don Bosco proudly told me that two Don Bosco teams defeated Loyola Meralco Sparks in two age group finals.



However, another friend of mine, Dino Musni, pointed out a disturbing trend in Cebu football, one that he has observed for the past year and a half.

Dino, who is organizing two tournaments this year, and was the one in charge of scheduling the festivals in the Cebu Football Association in the past, said that there are fewer U7 teams coming in this year, meaning there are fewer kids taking up the sport when they turn six.

“Most of the entries are in the 9 to 11 age groups,” said Dino. “And these were the kids who were in the U7 four years ago.”

What’s the significance of that time period? Well, four years was when the Azkals burst in the mainstream, and interest in football was at an all-time high. Four years ago, too, was when there was a proliferation of football clinics in Cebu and every kid, it seemed, wanted to be the next Phil Younghusband or Chieffy Caligdong.

Now, there aren’t that many clinics and after Dino pointed it our, there aren’t that many kids, too, taking up the sport.

This has happened before, in the mid-2000s but the trend picked up after the Hanoi Miracle but this time around, would it need another brilliant showing by the national team to spur interest in the sport? Or was that spike in 2010 just a fluke? Brought about by the massive publicity of football in the mainstream media?

Sure, the football machines in the established schools like Don Bosco, Springdale are still churning out teams in the younger age groups, showing that they continue to produce a new generation of players, but gone are the teams from the community-based clubs.

This trend’s impact in Cebu football won’t be felt now, but in a few years and it would be interesting to note if the dearth will have an impact on the quality of our U12s four or five years from now.

EXCUSE ME WHILE I PUKE. Do you know what happened to Daniel Orton, the import who ripped open the eyes of those who play blind to Manny Pacquiao in the PBA?

He got a P250,000 fine---one of the biggest in recent years--and was sent home packing.

And, adding insult to injury, an official from his own team even had the audacity to say, “Pambansang Kamao natin ‘yon. Para siyang nagpunta sa US at binastos ang pangalan ni Martin Luther King.”

Say what? Manny as a Pambansang Kamao—a monicker coined by a TV reporter—is on the same level as the legendary civil rights advocate? Sanamagan, if I look for the dictionary definition of an ass-kisser, I think I know whose picture I would find.

But seriously? Jeez man, we all love Manny Pacquiao the boxer but this clown masquerading as a basketball player doesn’t deserve his spot among the country’s best and to give him that immunity from criticism, are you guys really that blind?

MATRIMONIAL DIVIDE. Apparently, there’s a school in Cebu with two football clubs, one ran by the moms and the other by the dads. The split started with the disagreement on playing time.

Now, I’ve heard everything.

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