Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Fair Play: Mandaue pulls surprise in Cviraa

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's March 8 edition)
WHILE reading through the posts online of the secondary football results of the Central Visayas Regional Athletic Association, and seeing how the Don Bosco-led Cebu City team was dominating the opposition, I told my friend coach Ray Calo that I was willing to wager a few cold ones for his team.

Luckily, no one took it because the next thing I know, Mandaue City, represented by Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu plus some players from Canduman, brought Don Bosco back to earth with a humbling 3-1 defeat in the semifinals before blanking Dumaguete, 2-0, in the finals.


To be honest, I wasn’t expecting that, having seen Don Bosco and Ateneo face off in the Milo Little Olympics and the Cesafi, I thought Don Bosco would make it three in a row. But it turns out, those two tournaments served just as a preparation for Ateneo for their real target this year.

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“When we started the school year, we told our coaches that the real target is the Cviraa, everything else will just serve as
preparation,” said Raffy Musni, one of the parents of Ateneo.

This year, Ateneo is led by Japanese coaches Mitsu Tsunakiri and Hayato Ayabe and after that loss to Don Bosco in the Cesafi finals, I saw Hayato give his players such a dressing down that I can just imagine the joy the two coaches must have felt after that victory in the semifinals.

I just can imagine too, what my friend Raffy felt. This guy has seen it all as a mean--and sometimes literally mean if you ask his contemporaries—footballer in the 1980s---rarely give praises but a few days ago, he was in a high talking about his son Bertram, who controlled the midfield the way a magician controlls his crowd, everything passed through him.

“I’ve never been prouder of my son as I was during that game, he really controlled the midfield,” said Raffy, a busy football dad who joined the Cebu Football Association delegation in San Carlos City days after the Cviraa.

And it couldn’t have come at such a perfect time for Ateneo, that marquee win happened just 15 days into the Aboitiz Cup incident against Alcoy last year.

With the Cviraa in the bag, Ateneo now sets its eyes on the Palarong Pambansa crown, and after an impressive win over a perennial Palaro contender in the regional finals, the team’s confidence going into the national meet is on a high.

Mandaue will be joined by elementary champion Don Bosco Technological Center, which won its ninth straight Cviraa crown and is shooting for its fifth Palaro title since 2006, and girls futsal champion St. Theresa’s College.

STC’s march to the Palaro was just as impressive, winning a couple of games via shootout and adding to the white hairs of Noel Villaflor, a former keeper whose daughter Amber was on the Cebu City team.

STC’s football program was started by a bunch of courageous girls who defied their school’s stance on sports, and now it is a legitimate powerhouse in girls football and this stint in the Palaro—even if its for the indoor football version—is a boost to its program.

Good luck in the Palaro and I hope the three teams will make Cebu football proud in the national meet.

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