Two afternoons ago, Cebu City Councilor Raul “Yayoy” Alcoseba called. He was furious. “Boy (Felix) Tiukinhoy is only good if he’s the one organizing the tournament,” he said. “If he’s not part of it, to him the event is no good.”
The latest issue, as you’ve read on these back pages the past few days, is the Visayas Amateur Athletic Association (VAAA).
The founder of the VAAA, Yayoy Alcoseba hoped to include, among his roster of teams, Cebu’s top collegiate schools: UV, USJ-R, UC, USC, among others. Instead, in a 6-1 vote by the school owners of the Cebu Schools Athletic Federation (Cesafi) last week, they barred any Cesafi school from participating in the VAAA.
Yayoy Alcoseba and Boy Tiukinhoy ready to fight (He-he! That’s Freddie Roach)
Infuriated, Yayoy unleashed his tirade. “You and I are into sports. Isn’t more tournaments better?” he said. “The Cesafi is played in the first semester. The VAAA is during the second semester. There’s no conflict. And, with the Champions League event in Manila, no problem, our schedule is flexible. That tournament runs for two weeks while the VAAA will be from November until February, so we can be flexible.”
Yayoy was particularly outraged, he reiterated, because the schools have everything to gain with the VAAA. “They don’t have to pay anything,” he said. “And, because the tournament includes schools from Ormoc, Dumaguete and Bohol, during out of town trips, teams do not have to spend anything. We even give free insurance to the players. I cannot understand why the players will be denied the chance to improve their skills by joining another tournament.”
These emphatic words, coming from an institution in Cebu sports—and this land’s most successful basketball coach ever—that’s a fair point from Councilor Alcoseba.
Because isn’t the reason why schools develop and groom varsity teams to allow them to join tournaments? Why should coaches Boy Cabahug and Al Solis, for example, practice Greg Slaughter and his UV teammates from 3 to 7 p.m., six days a week if there’s no event to look forward to?
To seek the answers, I called Felix Tiukinhoy.
At 4 p.m. yesterday, as soon as I started explaining the reason for my call, the Cesafi commissioner—as if anticipating such a query—let out a hearty laugh.
I dribbled straight to the point. I spoke to Yayoy yesterday, I explained, read the news reports and wanted to hear his side. Why, I asked, deprive the players the opportunity of playing another tournament?
“The VAAA is good,” answered Mr. Tiukinhoy, in his usual calm and diplomatic fashion. “But here’s the problem: the VAAA is not just any tournament… it’s a school-based tournament. It’s just like Cesafi. And, because the Cebu schools are already members of the Cesafi, it is not appropriate for them to join another school-based event.
“Yayoy has the funds with the VAAA. They are bankrolled by Michel (Lhuillier) and it’s good that they’re developing more players and teams. But, not the Cesafi teams,” he said. “My suggestion: Why not let the champion of the VAAA, possibly coming from an out-of-town school, play against the champion of Cesafi? That would be a good idea.”
Now I get it. Yayoy envisions the VAAA to be the school’s second semester tournament—at a time when Cesafi’s own contest has concluded and when it’s players are idle. He envisions for the VAAA to complement the Cesafi program.
Mr. Tiukinhoy—who, as he explained to me, does not make the decisions (“I am not the Cesafi board,” he tells me, “it is they, the school owners, who decide.”)—has a different point of view: He considers the VAAA as a rival league. To him and the school owners, the VAAA is the same school-based tournament that competes against—not complements—the Cesafi.
Two points of view: One says his will complement; the other says it competes.
Who’s correct? I don’t know.
For as much as I agree with Yayoy for the need of the players to join more tournaments, I also understand the sentiments of school owners who feel threatened by the cash-rich, school-based VAAA.
What’s your opinion?