I GOT a call the other day from University of Cebu athletic director Bernard Ricablanca, who is also a member of the Cebu City Sports Commission.

Bernard called to thank me for suggesting that those who commit unsportsmanlike conduct in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. be required to render community service with the CCSC’s grassroots program for kids in conflict with the law before getting allowed to play again.

In the past, Bernard said, violators easily pay the fine and continue their thing. “Pila ra man nang fine,” said Bernard.

But community service, according to Bernard, might transform problematic athletes.

“They will get to realize how lucky they are once they see the kids,” he said.

Who are these kids? Some are so poor they don’t have slippers; some have done their running in the streets, away from cops while clutching a handbag. These are the type of kids who the CCSC wants to transform through sports.

They type of kids who could stare down at athletes taller than them and speak through their eyes, “I’d change lives with you in an instant.”

“I really like the idea, that’s why I suggested to Sir Ed (Hayco, CCSC chairman), that we shouldn’t limit it to Cesafi,” said Bernard.

Bernard said that being the authority for sports in Cebu, he wants all violators in all sports to render community service with CCSC.

I think that’s going to be difficult to implement but Bernard said they’re open to anyone, even to those in the Barangay leagues.

Then he mentioned football. Saying his idea was inspired when he saw a picture of those two guys slugging it out, he said the Aboitiz Cup can even send their violators to them.

Football is the only sport in Cebu where the governing body can really implement something like this, it’s also the sport where organizers check what others are doing and copy the good things. Those guilty of unsportsmanlike conduct, especially when it comes to violence, generally fall gets reviewied by the Disciplinary Committee, which can and will implement additional sanctions.

But that’s not really what got me thinking. Organizers of football tournament like the Aboitiz Cup, can implement such a thing.

As one of the organizers of the Sun.Star Cup, I also encounter problematic coaches, and even issued a warning to one that he would be banned for life from the tournament if he misbehaves again.

But a threat of a ban, or even a ban itself, doesn’t really encourage change in a behavior, does it? Perhaps a spell teaching kids who get less in life will?

So, the next time we meet for the Sun.Star Cup, I’m going to insist on an additional rule that would send more bodies to the CCSC grassroots program.

Of course, our tournament happens just once a year but you’d be surprised how quickly 12 months pass and besides, that could also mean a violator can have all the time in the world to render community service with the CCSC before he gets to coach again in the Sun.Star Cup.

As an organizer, you can do that and it’s what Bernard is appealing too, to other organizers, not just of football tournaments.

It’s like the CCSC saying, “Send us your violators. We can reform them. We can help them and they can help us.”

It’s a win-win situation.