Villaflor: Tourneys where everyone wins-A A +A
Friday, July 13, 2012
SEVERAL years ago, football buff Donn Rabanes expressed his desire to hold tournaments on a regular basis. And he wanted nine-a-side or 11-a-side matches, not just the more popular and easier to put up seven-a-side festivals.
So one day in April 2008, Donn, along with fellow lawyer Johndee Piasidad, banker Raul Leopardas and his Uptown United teammates, organized a nine-a-side invitational tournament at the University of the Philippines football field, keeping the number of teams to a manageable 10.
While the field no longer exists – no thanks to the ill-conceived, indiscriminate dumping of filling materials from a nearby condominium project – Donn’s 11-a-side “pocket tournaments” continue to this day.
We don’t hear about those pocket tournaments held regularly on the Aboitiz Football Field simply because of their “informal,” no frills nature. The tournament usually
lasts just two to four hours, depending on the reservation made for the day.
The tourneys draw four to eight teams. The main 11-a-side field is split in half, with two 40-minute matches played simultaneously. Teams that have participated include Cebu Science High, Astra Scelta Undici, NCR, Aero, USC Boys High Alumni, Scolares, Architects United, CDU Koreans, and ASI FC.
The pocket tourney last July 8 drew at least eight squads.
“Lingaw kaayo ang mga teams (The teams had a blast),” said Donn, a Cebuano lawyer who is now based in Manila.
Donn’s comment might come off as too “casual,” but that exactly is his intention: he wants the players to enjoy 11-a-side matches against different teams in a single setting. The games are competitive but winning the tournament is never the goal.
Instead, the objective is to have a good time and to build camaraderie among fellow footballers in a competitive setting. And in the spirit of community, all the teams split the rent for the field.
For months now, Donn has to fly every weekend to Cebu, but he doesn’t mind, as he looks forward to two things: spending time with his family and playing football. He sets practice schedules for Uptown and the pocket tourneys, reserving the Aboitiz field weeks in advance.
I just find it remarkable that the whole idea works and that he has established a network of teams and players that can be called upon in a minute’s notice. In fact, his network extends all the way to Metro Manila.
Donn, who was my teammate in Korsaaven FC back in the early nineties in UP Diliman, also co-manages with his brother, Odeon, a young club in Metro Manila, Pasig United.
And taking the pocket tournament idea further, Donn and Odeon arranged a whole-day event at Pasig United’s home turf, the well-trimmed Rizal High School Football Field last summer.
Cebu was represented by Uptown Scolares, where I played “on loan.” A man short of a full squad, 10 of us flew all the way to Manila for the April 1 tourney, the “Pasig Cup Invitational Tournament.”
Undermanned Uptown Scolares (the team had to borrow three players) made it to the semifinals in the Pasig Cup, after five round-robin matches against hosts Pasig United FC, RHSFC, Carrigans FC and third division side SQS United, under the terrible heat of the Metro Manila sun.
The following day, we faced United Football League second division side Union FC in a friendly cum football lesson at Bonifacio Global City’s Turf BGC, a FIFA-standard artificial football field. (I will write in another column about what an experience playing on artificial turf is and why we need one in Cebu right away.)
Two consecutive days of playing away football left us exhausted, but as Donn stressed, what was important was that we had an unforgettable, positive experience, one of the rare times footballers don’t mind playing in unfamiliar territory.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 14, 2012.