Saturday, September 19, 2015

Fair Play: Will bowling meet Cesafi's requirements?

(This is my Fair Play column for SunStar Cebu's Sept. 19 edition)
IT’S great that Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. Commissioner Felix Tiukinhoy is open to the idea of adding bowling in the school league. However, the Commissioner set a series of requirements that would test the resolve of the bowling community.
Though hard, the requirements are not insurmountable, and overcoming them could mean a smooth-sailing entry for the sport in the school league.

What then should the bowling community do?
First, of course, is the all important question. Do they want bowling in the school league? And it’s not a simple yes or no answer, because an affirmation carries with it certain responsibilities to make sure their goal of having their sport in the school league happen.
One of requirements Cesafi commissioner Felix Tiukinhoy set is that at least five members of the league must endorse the sport. Why five, that’s half of the member schools and having five schools compete in the initial offering means the sport won’t fold up in a year or two, the way women’s basketball did in the mid-2000s.
Of the member-schools in Cesafi, USC is a safe bet to easily form a bowling team, having tried in the past to have one officially recognized by the school. And in this attempt, the student-bowlers of USC must involve themselves with the bowling community.
The community is close-knit and a rudementary survey of which bowler goes to what school can be easily done and if they have members in at least five schools of Cesafi, then the first requirement that Tiukinhoy set can be readily met.
If not, then their next move should be the one they’ve been planning all together--help out the Cebu City Sports Commission’s grassroots program. Jumpstart a bowling program for the kids, but at the same time, invite students from Cesafi-member schools to join it.
That’s hitting three birds with one stone. They help expand CCSC’s sports program, they can identify potential Cesafi bowlers and they widen the profile of the sport, which has a reputation for being a past-time for the middle-class or well-to-do.
Bowling in the Philippines has been limited to clubs, yet despite a limited pool, look at what the sport has achieved? How many world champions have we had? We’ve even had an Olympic gold medal and the sport is also a regular contributor of gold medals in the Asian Games and the Southeast Asian Games.
Yet, it’s not a part of the school-sport system and even the Palarong Pambansa.
After the grassroots program or after the bowling community has identified potential members of a Cesafi member’s bowling team, the rest is just a matter of having each team endorsed by the school as its varsity for the Cesafi. Nah, no need to haggle about scholarships yet, what is important is to have, at first, a bowling team established in the school. Those who will enjoy such benefits will be the younger sisters and brothers of the first batch of Cesafi bowlers.
And for a community that has stood on its own for decades, making such moves in the eight months before the next Cesafi season opens is doable. All it takes are a few dedicated men and women to take the lead.
By the way, you ask why am I rooting for bowling when I can’t even hit a strike? It’s simple, I want the school leagues to expand beyond the template, to include other sports. And if bowling gets in, then perhaps in the future, billiards, futsal, women’s football can be included too.
And that’s a win-win situation for everyone.

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