THE only time I remember flaunting the rules on age limits was when, as a 17-year-old college freshman, I and a kababayan went to watch a movie that was only suited for 18-year-olds and above.
What’s the harm, right?
That’s probably what the coaches thought, too, when they flouted the age limits in the San Roque 9-a-side football cup.
What’s the harm, right? Basi diay makalusot.
Well, they didn’t and what they did was an insult to the organizers. Those who were reportedly found to be ineligible were five players from San Roque Football club, two from Tabor Hills and one from Real Cebu. Worse, more than half of Barili Football Club’s team were over the age limit, forcing the team to withdraw from the 15-Under competition.
What were they thinking? It’s just a festival, the rules don’t count?
And if the coaches say—as they often do—they didn’t know the players were over the age limit, then they have no business coaching teams. Coaches should know their players.
Incidents like these should no longer happen.
“Coaches in Cebu know each other and each other’s players. They face each other in the Under 8s until the older age groups, so cheats are easily identified,” a football organizer told me a few tournaments ago. “It’s usually the out-of-town teams that try to cheat, since we don’t know their players.”
And it’s true. Most of those who try to cheat—and they’ve all been caught—are out-of-town teams and their coaches and players have all banned from the tournament.
That’s why it’s embarrassing for San Roque Football Club, whose parish hosted the event, Real Cebu, and Tabor Hills, a club named for a religious pilgrimage site, to be caught cheating.
And of course, it’s embarrassing for Barili FC, too. Barili won two titles in the San Roque Cup before getting caught in the second day. And you have to ask, were their players in the first day all eligible?
That is what happens when you’re caught cheating, all your achievements are now put into question.
What kind of values are these clubs teaching their players? It’s OK to cheat, as long as you won’t be caught?
This latest black eye to Cebu football comes a few weeks after Cebu got into the limelight in the national scene with the hosting of the Philippines and Malaysia friendly and the selection of 14 players for the national team training pool.
Jacob Braun, Louie Arreglo, Froi Custado, Josh Rupert Asignar, Charles Clarence Unabia, Tristan Karl Enad, Yuan Rena, Vince Kristi Ybanez and Vince Paul Mapula were invited to the Boys Under 13 national pool, while Itsuko Bacatan, Samantha claire Toledo, Jan reese Jumawan, Alexandrea Gumilao and Arantxa Mari Trebol made it to the national 13-under girls training pool.
These young players are just a few of the best players in Cebu, and they wouldn’t get there if they flaunted the rules in age group football.
Basi makalusot? Perhaps, that’s what the coaches and teams thought. That’s why it’s important for the Cebu Football Association to make them as an example, so this practice of age cheating would be discouraged, if not effectively ended.
Impose a penalty on the coaches, players and teams.
Send the message: There’s no room for cheats in Cebu football.