Young and restless, his comeback brings joy

Antonio Aldeguer. Ricky Ballesteros. Michel Lhuillier. Edward and Eleanor Hayco. Jonathan Guardo. Yayoy Alcoseba. Jack Jakosalem. The late Dodong Aquino. Koko Holganza. Ask me to name, in the 23 years that I’ve resided in Cebu City, the names of sportsmen whom I admire the most and these people rate the highest. There is one more. In fact, of all, he is one of the most action-oriented, no-nonsense, results-focused, restless.

A long while back, he launched the Milo Little Olympics. I recall, in those early meetings when I was the Tournament Manager for Tennis, listening to him explain this new Cebu-wide tournament. Same with the Cebu City Olympics. Same with the Inter-barangay events that spanned 80 barangays.

Remember the Tri-City Run? Where a field of internationally-known runners joined the Mactan-Mandaue-Cebu trek? That 25K run existed for seven wonderful years. And, would you believe, only one RP race was accredited by the international books: his Tri-City Run. The author of the event? Of so many events?

J.A.Y. For long, that’s Joy Augustus Young.

The above-mentioned events are not all. Over a decade ago, during his stints as the city’s Chairman of the Committee on Youth and Sports and when he headed the Cebu City Sports Commission, he did much, much more.

I also recall the healthy “rivalry” he had with then-Councilor Koko Holganza—each outdoing the other with plentiful sports events; that period I consider one of the highlights of Cebu City sports.

But the most significant contribution of Joy Young? It happened 15 Aprils ago. Cities like Bacolod (which had the backing of Monico Puentevella), Dumaguete (with the support of now-Governor Emilio Macias II) and several more submitted bids to host the 1994 Palarong Pambansa. As we Cebuanos very well know today—with the all-out support of Mayor Tommy Osmeña and Congressman Raul del Mar (who even helped in the presentation to convince the Palaro decision-makers)—we organized the Palaro, the only time in history that we hosted RP’s largest annual sporting event.

Joy Young, backed by Mayor Tom, was Cebu City’s team captain. He was our Pat Riley and Phil Jackson. He presided over the meetings. He assigned the venues. He organized the marketing. Planned the billeting of athletes. Studied the events. I should know. Together with my dad Bunny, we ran the tennis event at the now-defunct Cebu Tennis Club where the Cebuanos (led by Jun-Jun Cabrera) emerged champions.

Out of the ’94 Palaro also emerged the single largest sports infrastructure of this island: the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC). To ensure that the complex would be RP’s best, then-Councilor Young visited plenty of facilities: the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex and ULTRA; he even flew to Singapore to inspect a world-class track oval there. And because of the painstaking research that was conducted, our Sports Center emerged as the nation’s most productive facility. Athletic meets, football tournaments, PRISAA and CVIRAA events, national track-and-field contests, Earth, Wind & Fire concerts, Z Gorres boxing spectacles and—how can we forget—the Sinulog, are all held at the Abellana grounds.

Fast forward today: I’m glad J.A.Y., now the Cebu City education consultant (and, of course, the former Promdi congressman), is at the forefront of the effort to repair our sports complex track oval.

Last Thursday morning at the CCSC, I was invited to observe the proceedings as two suppliers made presentations. Two more have submitted proposals.

Joy, wearing a white T-shirt with trimmings of Team Germany’s black, red and yellow colors, was his usual quick-minded self during the presentation: he interrogated, examined, queried. It was a sight to watch Joy back in action. And though no specific pledges were announced last Thursday, knowing the man that I’ve known from many years of working with him, Joy Young will not run away from the running oval that he built.

John Pages

By John Pages

I've been a sports columnist since 1994. First, in The Freeman newspaper under "Tennis Is My Game." Then, starting in 2003, with Sun.Star Cebu under the name "Match Point." Happy reading!

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