Limpag: Cesafi football

Mike T. Limpag

IN ONE forgotten final over a decade ago, a coach told his players to play on, even if there was an injured player on the other team.

Way Fair Play ron,” he told me and I just shook my head.

That wasn’t the case in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) final between the Don Bosco Technical College (DBTC) and the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R). Late in the match, with cramps hitting players near the halfcourt line, players took the ball out themselves. There was no need for instruction from the coach, they knew their fair play.

These bunch of guys got football pedigrees Cebu can be proud of. The ball was already near the halfway line and had they wanted to, the team that had possession were about two passes away from a breakaway.

But they didn’t. Heck, the thought never even occurred to them as they quickly took the ball out. I guess they were that confident on themselves. They see no need to do something unpleasant.

At that point, it was still anybody’s ball game, while DBTC had Josh Asignar firing at goal, USJ-R also had Christian Agot and Dustin Ramirez upfront with their chances. In the end, it was a stalemate after 90 minutes and 20 minutes of extra time, which led to the dreaded shootout. DBTC made all five, while Ramirez was inconsolable when he missed as USJ-R’s third kicker.

By the way, I told tournament manager Francis Ramirez not to hold the high school and college finals on the same day because I believe each final deserves its own space in the paper. Well actually, the other reason was a bit more selfish. All season long, I haven’t watched any of the 3 p.m. games because I have to go back to the office and I surely wanted to watch the University of San Carlos and University of Cebu final.

So in a way, I’m not unhappy with the college final snafu, when the lack of lights forced Cesafi to move the second half to next week. Only one side of the stadium had lights, while the other side was damaged by the fire last month and has yet to be repaired. And we all know how slow the government wheels move and I think at this point we can only hope to have full lights before the next Cesafi football season.

I saw UC athletic director Jessica Jawad-Honoridez, who was watching her first Cesafi football final. She had difficulty finding a parking spot and assumed there was another activity but was surprised that the hundreds of people at the Cebu City Sports Center at that time we’re there for the football finals. I believe if it was an Ateneo vs. DBTC final, it would have been more crowded.

The atmosphere was great and I love the antics of the DBTC band, who played taps every time a player goes down with an injury—no matter from which team—and played “Ang tiguwang” when he slowly gets up.

“Samoka nila oi,” I heard one student writer tell her colleague, while breaking out into a grin.

The atmosphere in Cesafi football is really different.