Fair Play: Fourth Sun.Star Cup.

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Sept. 5 edition)
HOW quickly time flies. Just like that, we are now on the fourth edition of the Sun.Star Football Festival, which will be on Nov. 21 and 22 at the Cebu City Sports Center. It seemed only last year when we had the first one, and now we are on our fourth edition.

The tournament, as usual, will be for the age group divisions only; no men’s and women’s opens and no 38-above or 45-above. Why? Well, we could have more entries with the men’s and women’s open teams but we want to focus on the age group, the youth teams and the more senior players, especially the parents of the footballers, can just support their kids on this one. The dads last year were really quite enthusiastic in taking their kids’ photos during the awarding ceremony, thanks to the lovely ladies who helped give out the medals.

Yes, they will return.

This year’s age group divisions are the Mixed Players 7, 9 and 11 and the Boys 13, 15, 17 and 23, and the Girls 13, 17 and 23.

The registration fee is still the same, P1,000 but there’s a big BUT. Football coaches are notorius for flirting with last-minute submissions, some even pay up on the day of the event itself.

We will no longer allow that.

Borrowing the concept used by fun run organizers, teams who register early will pay only P1,000 and the early registration period starts on Sept. 10---after the Cesafi high school finals--and will end on Oct. 9. We have scheduled the coaches’ meeting on Oct. 9, so coaches who will attend it may still catch up with the early bird rates for the tournament. After that, it’s P1,500 for those who want to register on Oct. 10 until Oct. 24. For the final phase of the registration period, from Oct. 25 until Nov. 7, teams will pay P2,000. So take your pick and sign up early or late.

Of course, the things that make our tournament unique will still be there, just like in the previous editions. The specialized medals and trophies, and of course, the raffle prizes for the players. Last year, we gave out some 10 cell phones and other gift certificates. We plan to do so--plus add some--for this year. Not just for the players, but the coaches and referees too.

Other things being planned are the photo contest and another contest for a short-video capturing the best goal or celebration. We will be updating you once they are finalized. By the way, to get updated, look for the Sun.Star Football Festival official page on Facebook. The entry forms and the ground rules will be available on the page for download too.

As for the ground rules, we are still using the one Neil Montesclaros used for the first football festival in Cebu, which has become some sort of the general ground rules for all festivals since. However, there’s one change for this year and that is any player who earns a straight red card will be suspended for the rest of the tournament.

Why? It’s simple. Straight red cards are very rare in a football festival and in all my years, I’ve seen only two or three players get sent off in a 15-minute match. These players tend to have a mind-set of getting even, or getting physical, even before the whistle and we don’t want these type of players in our tournament, especially one tailored specifically for the age groups.

So yeah, earn a red card and see you next year.

The warning isn’t only for players, too, but for coaches. There’s already one coach who will be under extra scrutiny this year for his conduct last year. Another mis-behavior from him, and he won’t return in any of our tournaments.

So, why not be on your best behavior. Besides, it’s just a game, no reason to lose your head over something as trivial as an uncalled foul.

See you this November.


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