Thursday, August 20, 2015

Fair Play: Who's your bet in Cesafi football?

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Aug. 20 edition)
THE Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. football season opens this Saturday, and unlike last year’s edition, this year’s competition promises to be an exciting affair due to a new format.

Last year had a semifinal round after the group stage, and tournament director Francis Ramirez has done away with that for this year in the college division.



What makes a semifinal round disadvantageous in Cesafi football? Simple, there are only five teams in the league and if you include a semifinal round, that means teams can afford to take a vacation in three games, win only once and gets assured of a spot in the semifinals, where rankings mean cowdung. Win all your elimination round games and get unlucky in the semifinals? Well, bye-bye Cesafi season.

With the top two teams advancing to the finals, each game in the calendar will be vital and teams will have to be at their best. Also, Francis told me that for this year, they’ve added an incentive. A team that sweeps the elimination round games automatically becomes the champion and I think that’s the perfect reward for the team that wins all its matches.

No playoffs to contend in after accomplishing such difficult feat.

In the high school division--a six-team field--Cesafi still has a semifinal round but knowing how the competition has gone in the previous years, it’s going to be a contest between rivals Don Bosco Technological Center and the Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu. These two teams have turned the esafi football contest into a dual meet in recent years, after a dominant run by Don Bosco in the first 10 or so editions.

In college, the competition is more even, with defending champion University of San Carlos, University of San Jose-Recoletos and the Universty of Southern Philippines as serious contenders and the University of Cebu and the University of the Visayas not far behind. Because of its contingent of African players, UC is no pushover in the league. And who can forget USPF’s run last year? When they zoomed to the top early in the competition only to fall short in the semifinals--despite leading--against USC.

I remember the contrast in school support in that semifinal, with school officials in attendance for USC ad only friends and family for USPF. Will things change this year for the boys of Elying Toledo? I hope so. The school’s basketball team is a doormat, one that has a snowball’s chance in hell in winning a title. But the Panthers football team is a real contender, throwing in some support makes sense.

So, who’s your bet this season? Let your choice be heard this Saturday.

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