(This is my Fair Play column for SunStar Cebu’s Nov. 7 edition)
There will only be one Copa Paulino Alcantara Cup winner but for me, the five participating teams are all winners having overcome the challenges of forming a squad while the Covid-19 pandemic is raging and decimating businesses all over the country. Once the favorites, 2020 PFL champion UCFC isn’t seeing action and while some think that may signal something, I’d like to give the former Ceres club the benefit of the doubt and hope to see it again come February, when the regular season kicks off.
Stallions, Kaya, Cebu FC and Mendiola FC are the only teams competing and based on experience, it seems this will be a toss up between Stallions and Kaya FC with the team that managed to keep its players all throughout the pandemic having the edge.
The number of pro clubs is expected to grow next season, with the entry of Cagayan de Oro and the return of UCFC and Maharlika hopefully but perhaps it’s time to revisit the former men’s competitions of the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) to encourage stakeholders in the provinces, or even the local football associations themselves, to form clubs; clubs that one day may follow the path of Kaya FC.
We all know the story of Kaya, a team formed by friends in the mid-90s that joined in a seven-a-side competition to become one of the top pro teams in the country.
If the PFF will revive the old amateur club competitions, I hope it won’t be done the old way, when clubs sometimes exist for a season only or when players act like nomads and go to the highest bidders. It may be an amateur competition, but I hope the PFF encourages the club to act or behave like a professional club.
You may think that we should call them semi-pro or treat them as such but for me, that’s not helpful. Besides, the Games and Amusements Board recently cleared up the definition of a professional team, so you’re either a pro team or not.
Why do I want to see the old club competition back? Well, because I want to see clubs in the provinces and perhaps these clubs can get a taste of what pro football is by getting invited to future Alcantara Cups?