BY THIS time of the year a decade or so ago, the local football associations all over the country have rounded up their local eliminations and have selected their representatives for the men’s national open.
It was the toughest tournament to win, in my opinion, and Cebu won the national title only once, thanks to the M. Lhuillier team of Graeme Mackinnon and Mario Ceniza. But curiously enough, after the Azkals breakthrough of 2010, the men’s national open has taken a back seat despite the infusement of money.
Smart rolled out P80 million over eight years to help start a “domestic league” in 2011, but that was the time when the United Football League was serving as the country’s defacto domestic league. So, over eight years we’ve had the national U23 championships, the national club championships until we’ve had none.
I know a national men’s open championships is the least of the Philippine Football Federation’s priorities right now but I hope there’s going to be national championships. It doesn’t have to be for the men’s open since we can basically assume that the best of the best locals are seeing action in the Philippine Premier League. We can do it for the college division.
Don’t you want to see a tournament pitting the UAAP, NCAA, Cesafi, Nopsceaa champions against the college champions of Iloilo, Davao, Cagayan and the rest of the countries? I think that’s going to be one heck of a tournament, right?
And because of the demographic involved, I think it wouldn’t be that hard to sell to sponsors.
But that remains a dream. I’ve always wished that even a fraction of the money involved in the holding of the national intercollegiate basketball tournament will be allocated for a national football collegiate championships. For the basketball version, the Manila teams join so many other tournaments outside their college leagues that they only send their Team Bs for the national tournament.
I know it’s not their fault but I hope some day, some maverick with a deep pockets will take it upon himself to organize a college tournament. Charlie Cojuangco of Negros held one over a decade ago, even sponsoring the spikes of the players involved but the financial bleeding was too much it wasn’t staged again.
Still, I hope there will be one. Aside from the Prisaa, college football teams don’t have a major tournament outside their college leagues so I know there’s room for a national championships.