By Noel S. VillaflorSaturday, July 28, 2012
WHAT could be better news than the Azkals playing in an international friendly in Cebu?
That says a lot about the Philippine Football Federation’s recognition of Cebu’s place in the country’s sporting map.
The PFF and the Cebu football community has built a robust relationship over the past couple of years, beginning with the previous Cebu Football Association board’s no-nonsense efforts to work with the federation.
I have lost count of the number of FIFA and PFF trainings and seminars for coaches and referees that the CFA facilitated over the past few years, programs that have provided a solid foundation for the development of football in Cebu.
As what can be gleaned from the number of football programs that have now been slated
on Cebu soil, including the ongoing Kasibulan grassroots development, there’s no doubt the current CFA board will be able to build on the accomplishments of the previous board.
Among the improvements the current CFA board is working on is mapping out the schedules of the major tournaments and sorting out memberships issues.
Then there’s the slated international friendly between the Azkals and Singapore or the Suzuki qualifiers runner-up this mid-November. No doubt the PFF, the Cebu City Government, and the CFA will ensure that the Cebu City Sports Center pass international standards for the big game.
As I football fan, I can’t help but get excited with this development. But as a member of the Cebuano football community, I also hope that this undertaking will not distract them from tackling matters that, if not addressed, are the biggest threat to the growth of Cebu football.
I’m talking about the shrinking number of football fields in this booming metropolis of ours.
Metro Cebu, with a burgeoning population of over two million, only has a handful of football fields and a smattering of open public spaces. Worse, while the number of football players is expected to grow, the number of football fields is expected to shrink further, no thanks to a continuously expanding urban sprawl bereft of
sustainable community planning.
Ultimately, the Cebuano footballer must realize that the problem of lack of playing space is a mere symptom of a much larger problem. And if he is to understand such a condition, he must come to grips with catchwords such as “sustainability” and “livability.”
If, for instance, a footballer cannot find open space where to kick ball, would he consider his community livable? And how does he turn it into one?
So just what is a livable community? In the words of a multi-sectoral group, a livable community, or, more specifically, a “Livable Cebu can nurture connected communities, a healthier environment and sustainable growth in all dimensions.”
Calling themselves the Movement for a Livable Cebu, the proponents want citizens to be included in the crafting of a “comprehensive metropolitan development plan,” which they’ve stated in a manifesto launched last month during the “Sustainable City Dialogues 2.”
Take a look at their wish list: a viable mass transit, road sharing and dedicated lanes for bikers, as well as parks and urban green spaces for joggers, families and outdoor public events. Sounds good?
It’s a list worth applauding, but one that inevitably leads me to this question: if the bikers and joggers have joined the greater community of Cebuanos in calling and for a Livable Cebu, how come the footballers have been mum about this most crucial of issues?
Just think about this for a second: all the time poured on training referees, coaches
and players would go to waste if there’s no adequate space where they can propagate what they’ve learned. No fields, no open space, no football.
And that is why, if it is to flourish, Cebu’s football community must immediately join the citizens’ movement calling for a Livable Cebu. To the CFA, that means now.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 28, 2012.