Saturday, September 22, 2018

Limpag: La Liga in Cebu

THE La Liga, La Liga of Spain? I had to double check the other week when someone got in touch last week to talk about football in Cebu and what La Liga is doing in the Philippine football scene.

That someone was Almudena Gomez, the La Liga representative of Spain who was in Cebu together with the organizers of the Milo FCB Road to Barcelona camp. We finally got to meet during the dinner hosted by Ricky Dakay and she told me that she has been in the Philippines for the past six months, getting to know the football scene.

She wanted to know more about the Cebu football scene and the first thing I pointed out was the stark difference in how the community here works compared to Manila. Here, we are more united and a common calendar means there are no conflicts in schedules, which is a regular thing in Manila.

Of course, Manila has the advantage when it comes to pitches and the number of players but Cebu has its own strengths.

She also asked about how La Liga is seen in Cebu and I had to tell her honestly that in Cebu rare is a La Liga football fan; but it seems everyone is either a Real Madrid or Barcelona fan.

That was something that she has observed in her brief stay here and she said one of her goals is promoting the league is to make people aware that “we have 20 other teams.” And that is something, I think, that would be quite a challenge.

I mean, can you name at least 10 La Liga teams off the bat? I know I can’t.

I told her that growing up, when cable TV was just gaining a foothold in Mindanao and all we got was ESPN, the football games we saw always involved Ajax, Man United, Barcelona and Real Madrid, and they weren’t always domestic matches.

But it’s great that La Liga is trying to gain foothold in Cebu and I believe this is going to be a win-win situation. Well, Barca had a three-day camp recently and it was a hit. Who knows perhaps she can convince the other La Liga teams to send a couple of coaches here for a longer camp, one that won’t be limited to players. Now that would be an impact.

And while we are shooting for the moon, the No. 1 problem in Cebu is the lack of pitch. If she can convince La Liga to put up one here, one that is accessible to the majority, then I am going to watch every La Liga match that I can and I will make sure that the rest of the community will do the same.