In October 2018, Leylam’s Ugur Tasci unveiled a plan that had the Cebuano football community buzzing–the Dynamic Herb Sports Complex, the first artificial pitch in Cebu.
Little did the Cebu football community know that that was just the beginning of an even crazier dream–for Cebu to finally have its own homegrown fully professional club in the domestic league.
Three years later, after Ugur spent blood, sweat, tears and an insane amount of money, he was all beaming when I met him for the media day of the Cebu Football Club, our first meeting since the pandemic began.
“Mike, I know you want to step on the turf,” said Ugur, who always has a smile on his face.
I did, of course. It was the first thing I wanted to do since I got to the semi-finished product that is the Dynamic Herb Sports Complex.
“How much did you spend for the turf?” I asked.
He smiled, shook his head and said, “Please don’t ask.”
Though still a work in progress, the Cebu Football Club’s home stadium is something every Cebuano should be proud of. The locker rooms, both home and visitors, are one of the best, and though I may be citing a low standard, the CR’s are definitely better than Abellana’s.
I call it a work in progress because it really is. In 2018, Ugur didn’t just envision a football pitch; he envisioned a healthy and nature-friendly venue for Cebuanos where the kids can play football, the parents can jog or relax under the trees. A green space in a concrete jungle.
“Among the next plans are rugby and obstacle sports,” said Astrid Erasga, Dynamic Herb’s marketing officer. And, as I have discovered just recently, if they include tennis Dynamic Herb would be the go to spot for sports in Cebu.
Though the facility is far from a finished product, the home team is closed to it. Of course, being the new kids on the block they are cautious in what they’re saying.
However, a new team they maybe, but they aren’t exactly made up of newbies; there’s Ace Villanueva, who was Kaya’s keeper when it won the Alcantara Cup in 2018, Jayson Cordova, Daniel Gadia, and to my surprise, Joaco Canas, who was with the team for four days only during the media presentation.
“Ace, Jayson, Joaco, Daniel…Ang uban, patching-patching na lang,” said Ref, using his five fingers to emphasize the strength of the team.
It’s a homecoming of sorts for Ref, who was Southwestern University’s star keeper when it won the last Cebu Amateur Athletic Association football title over the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R) in 2000, one of the players of that USJ-R team? Oliver Colina. The three 18-year-old players of the CFC team weren’t born yet during that epic finale. USJ-R got the last laugh though as it won the first four Cesafi titles.
Now tasked with handling the team in their professional debut, Coach Bingbing has worked hard to make sure the players will not only represent Cebu well but will also make the Cebuanos feel the team is really their own. The Cebuano audience is really discerning. I remember in Global Cebu’s last home game—against Ceres no less—the home fans booed them. (Also, Ref Cuaresma got more cheers when his name was mentioned during the introduction.)
For the Alcantara Cup, Cebu FC got the toughest possible grouping and will have to face United City FC and Stallions Laguna. But coach Bingbing, who throughout his career had to fight for possession with guys taller and bigger than him, it’s a worthy test.
“For us very tough group since these two clubs are very stable already..but for me it’s a good test for my club to play the best teams in our country,” said Coach Bingbing.
As for Ugur Tasci, the man with the dream, he’s asking for something simple.
“This team is for all of the Cebu football community, we want to give everyone here the chance to realize their own dreams, so I hope they will support us,” he said.
So let’s order our favorite Leylam product as we watch their games, ok?