After hosting two huge international sporting events in 2012, Cebu expects more to comeBy Mars G. Alison
With the successful staging of the Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 Philippines and the Faceoff: Philippine Azkals vs. Singapore Lions football match in Cebu this year, expect more international sporting events to be held here in the future.
The past year once again proved that Cebu is ready to go big time in sports as the two aforementioned events went on smoothly save for some minor problems. Because of these two, Cebu is now considered a good choice for more events in the future.
In fact, there are already talks of making Cebu the home of Ironman Philippines after its three-year contract ends in 2014 . There is also a plan of holding one of the international football matches here as the Philippines hosts Group E of the 2014 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup qualifiers.
Even before this year ends, the Philippine Tennis Association also confirmed Lapu-Lapu City’s third hosting of the Davis Cup Group II Tie of the Asia-Oceania Zone next year.
After hosting the Davis Cup Ties twice in 2011, Lapu-Lapu City, one of the highly-urbanized cities of the Cebu Province, is no longer a stranger to the event.
In 2011, Lapu-Lapu City partnered with Plantation Bay Resort and Spa in hosting two Davis Cup tournaments, which saw the Philippines competing against Japan first and Chinese Taipei next.
Lapu-Lapu’s third hosting of the Davis Cup Tie next year pitting Philippines against Syria was confirmed recently. This tournament was supposed to be held in Syria but the ongoing conflict there forced the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to decide to hold the Philippines versus Syria Tie on neutral ground. However, ITF agreed to hold the tournament instead in the Philippines.
Randy Villanueva, Philta vice president, said presenting Plantation Bay again as the venue was a key factor in the Philippines getting the ITF’s nod.
Cebu is actually no stranger in hosting international events in the past. It once hosted the MTV Queen City Run back in early 2000. While that event only lasted for a couple of years, other sports continued to hold international events here such as boxing, eskrima and karatedo.
Some events of the 2005 Southeast Asian Games were also held here, building up Cebu’s potential as one of the country’s leading sports tourism destination.
This year, however, will be remembered as the year that Cebu became a venue for the first time of the Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 Philippines, which was held in four key cities of the Cebu Province last August. It was also the year that Cebu hosted its first international football friendly match last November at the Cebu City Sports Center.
Cebu’s hosting of the half Ironman was influenced by the Vaseline Men Xterra Off-Road Triathlon, which Liloan town has been holding for two years already.
Despite having been held already three times here in the Philippines, Cebu’s hosting of the Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 Philippines was the first time that the event gathered 1,700 participants coming from 31 countries.
The international football friendly match between Philippine Azkals and Singapore Lions dubbed as “Faceoff” was long awaited, especially with some Cebuanos being part of the national football team lineup.
The Cebuano football community were delighted when the new administration of the Cebu Football Association (CFA) headed by president Pericles “Ricky” Dakay decided to make the hosting of the first international football match here its first major activity.
Despite being only a friendly, the Faceoff presented possibilities with Philippine Football Federation (PFF) president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta promising that the Faceoff will not be the last international match that will be held in Cebu. He said that as the PFF host more international matches, Cebu will be considered as one of the venues.