I HAD an interesting chat with Keith Buyco the other day, one that could mean great things for the local football community.
Keith, the “B” in the BRO Cup in Cebu, is now based in Manila and is helping manage the Philippine Air Force (PAF) team in the Philippine Premier League. He also said the PAF wants to link with Cebu and eventually be based here.
I think that’s going to be a brilliant idea. It won’t be as expensive as Global Cebu relocating here, as PAF has an air base in Mactan and of course the Air Force will also take care of the salaries of the players. So whatever partnership and sponsorships the club can get will go into the running of the club.
As to the PAF getting accepted by the local community, I think that won’t be difficult. I remember during the post-2010 UFL, when Cebu didn’t have a team yet, some of the Cebuano fans followed the Air Force because of Chieffy Caligdong and Ian Araneta, and of course, because of its history. Before club football took a boom in the country, it was PAF, Philippine Army and the Philippine Navy teams that ruled domestic football. There have been a lot of Cebuanos too who joined these teams, mostly after their stint in the national team.
So, I don’t think it would take that long for Cebu to accept the Air Force team. Heck, we can even name it Cebu-PAF for a play on the popular Cebu-pop.
Another thing that favors such a proposed linkage would be the timely assumption of Rodney Orale as the president of the Central Visayas Football Association. Yes, I know the new board has yet to hold its election, but we all know that it will merely be a formality as Engr. Orale has long been tipped to head it.
And of course, everyone here knows that Orale is the O in the “BRO Cup,” so it’s merely reviving a partnership that has benefited Cebu football for close to a decade.
Of course, one of the first concerns of having a Cebu-linked team in the Philippine Premier League is where it would play, as the Cebu City Sports Center field is dead again. But I think a home game isn’t a priority in the PPL; surviving in the league (and the league surviving, of course) is the priority.
A home game could be two or three years down the road, and by that time, we could have more options when it comes to football venues. There’s the artificial pitch being constructed by Leylam at the South Road Properties and the planned Mandaue Sports Complex, which will have a football pitch and will be located a few minutes away from the airport.
Of course, CCSC—if the grass is fit to play—will always be an ideal venue due to its location, but having other venues is better. That will really be useful for the PPL’s direction of having not just one home game at a time since it plans to bring all the clubs in one area, let them play each other, to cut on costs.
And in a professional league, you also need a practice field aside from one for the games. I see all these fields complementing each other, not competing with each other. So yep, having a Cebu team in the new league is advantageous to Cebu and the league.
Cebu-PAF. It does have a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?