Mike Limpag

picture-14

What football can learn from running
Mike T. Limpag  Fair Play, Feb. 13, 2009

AFTER the hotly-contested elections for the Philippine Football Federation back in 2007, I and Graeme Mackinnon, the former coach of the Carmen National School, had a brief discussion about the two candidates.
Graeme said he knew the winning president but wouldn’t have voted for him. I said I knew the losing candidate, and I wouldn’t have voted for him, either.

And when I first heard that Martinez promised he will resign if he won’t be able to make football the second-most popular sport in the country in six months, I thought, what’s he smoking?

Less than two years into his term, Martinez is firing people left and right, while the senior team’s national coach has resigned, saying he has lost confidence in the PFF president.
If that isn’t enough, a report from the Philippine Daily Inquirer says one group is demanding that Martinez let an audit team check the finances of the PFF, to check whether the NSA’s money isn’t going to someone else’s pockets.

Oh boy, here we go again. Martinez’s predecessor, Johnny Romualdez, also faced this clamor for audits. He did appoint a team, but when I asked one PFF board member whether the audit team members were Romualdez’s boys, he said, “Next question, please.”

Why all this noise? For football?

Football may not be the third- or fourth most popular sport in the country but it surely is one of the richest. PFF gets close to P25 million a year from Fifa, AFC and AFF and to top it all, it has a P25-million peso building, whitwhew!!!

Aside from that, the PFF president gets to attend the Fifa Congress and the World Cup.
It’s kind of disheartening that less than two years into a new PFF president’s term, old issues resurface. And it makes you wonder if Philippine football will really move forward.

But despite all these, I see hope. And I see it in running.

I mean, take a look at runners. They’ve multiplied by the thousands, no thanks to the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (Patafa).

Grassroots development? Heck, Patafa, whose president has been in that position since President Marcos and heads two other NSAs, has no grassroots development program, but take a look at the number of people joining running events.

With all these people taking up the sport, running will grow by leaps and bounds. And I hope football will take its cue from that.

Give it enough rope, the PFF will hang itself. But as long as people take up the the game, the sport will survive. For sure, we won’t do well internationally (we already missed the chance in the 2007 and this year’s Southeast Asian Games), but at least, people will learn to love the beautiful game.

ACTION. Runners have gotten to love their sport so much that they’ve decided, that instead of waiting for government action, they’ll start the initiative.

A few runners met the other day to launch a signature campaign to persuade the Cebu City Government to rehabilitate the oval.

Unlike in previous “campaign meetings” that I attended in college, this one didn’t involve a bullhorn or red flags but their goal is just as lofty.

Each of those who attended got a folder—some went home with four or five— with enough space to hold a thousand signatures.

From my guesstimate, the group could gather close to 50,000 voters, I mean signatures.
CCSC manager Ricky Ballesteros was there to address some of the concerns and ideas.

And one member of the group said they will donate a sign that will remind people not to smoke and about the proper use of lanes—inside lanes for the fast/serious runners, outside lanes for the leisure joggers and people-who-text-while-they-run.

The group hopes to present the number early next month, and with 50,000 signatures from runners who could return the favor to the runners in 2010…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *