I HAD a brief talk with Rico Navarro on Monday and the Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu athletic director told me that I should have seen the action in the AboitizLand Football Cup 45-Above division. We have some new interns and I was asking him if there are any Ateneo athletes who are part of the national team or have interesting stories.
But it’s the Sinulog and it’s always a slow day for sports.
“But you should feature the guys who are still playing,” he told me. He saw some the games and shared that guys like Nimrod Quiñones, my former boss at the Freeman, are still playing and that even Central Visayas Football Association president Rodney Orale suited up for Erco. This used to be the 35-above division and I think Cebu was the first to have such age group. Now, it’s the 45-above division and I know it’s one of the more taxing divisions for referees and officials.
Why? Well, the players in the division tell me themselves. Sometimes, when it’s only your mind that’s quicker than your foot, ugly fouls happen. Or, when your mouth is faster than your pace, well, you know what happens.
Still, it’s good that guys their age are still playing. I mean, it’s the reason why most of them support the game in other capacities—as sponsors, club officers or what-have-you.
They may be a bit slower but still they play.
I’m highlighting the guys in the 45-above division because what I read a few hours after my chat with Rico really floored me. In Japan, 52-year-old Kazuyoshi Miura just signed another 12-month contract with Yokohama FC, a first division club. Yep, a 52-year-old is playing in the first division in Japan. CNN wrote, “Miura, who turns 53 in February, played just three times last season as Yokohama earned promotion from Japan’s second tier.”
Jesus H. Christ. Played just three times? That he got a minute in is impressive enough. I don’t think our able-bodied guys in their 20s are good enough for Japan’s first division and here is this guy, eight years removed from being a senior citizen, playing professional football in one of Asia’s toughest leagues.
This is where you pick up your jaw from the floor.
He’s no ordinary half-centenarian. He started his professional career in Brazil in 1986--when most of the guys in our 45-Above Division were at their prime in high school--and has played pro football in Italy, Croatia and Australia. Whatever this guy’s secret is for longevity, I hope he can share it.
I’m sure our guys in the 45-Above Division—soon to be 50-above division?--would love to learn some of it.