FANS who saw the Philippines and Vietnam match at the First 5 sports bar last Sunday, Dec. 2, had Cebu’s governor watching with them. I, together with Atty. Ramil P. Abing of the Cebu Provincial Sports Commission and Joey Herrera of the Central Visayas Regional Football Association (CVRFA) planned to watch the match there, and fortunately for us, Gov. Hilario Davide III was having dinner there with his family and friends.
The governor joined us for brief spells of the game, and we were able to share to him that it was Argao’s own Patrick Reichelt who scored the equalizer late in the first half. It was great, too, that the governor saw the passion of the Ultras, who were there as they all screamed when Reichelt jumped in for the equalizer.
I don’t think the governor’s party planned to watch the game, but they ended up watching since all the TVs in the bar were tuned in to the match. Save for perhaps the governor of Negros Occidental, the only other governor who watched that game, was with us.
Still, it was great that the governor knows there is a clamor for football in this side of the country. For the past four or five years, the CVRFA—then the Cebu Football Association—started a futsal grassroots program in cooperation with the Cebu Provincial Sports Commission that has seen the sport mushroom all over the province. They’ve also teamed up for the Festival of Football tournaments, a youth-oriented event that the Philippine Football Federation uses as the selection process for the youth national team.
The CVRFA provides the teams and coaches, and Capitol provides the funding and buses. Those who make the initial cut in the FOF Visayas will join others who were selected in the Mindanao and Luzon FOFs, and from them, the PFF will select the training pool for the national youth teams.
The Aboitiz Group, too, has reached out to the province and recently conducted a clinic in Balamban, a place which coaches tell me is a sleeping giant in football. In the recent SunStar Cup, University of San Jose-Recoletos Balamban got second place in the Players 6 division and made the semis in the Players 8, and that’s not a bad showing at all.
It used to be that there is a huge gap in the level of play between the Metro Cebu-based teams and those in the province, but that has been narrowed, and in some divisions, teams from the province can beat the Cebu-based teams.
The gap is primarily due to Metro Cebu having more competent coaches and tournaments, while the province-based teams have only the Department of Education meets to look forward to. However, I think the province-wide futsal program—and futsal being a great foundation for the field version—played a hand in this.
Just this year, CPSC expanded the governor’s cup to volleyball from a basketball-only tournament, and I think futsal might be next. If not Capitol, a private group could come in and sponsor a futsal tournament that teams from the province can join.
Futsal in the province has a great future.