Limpag: A happy twist for softball in Cebu

Having grown up in Polomolok, South Cotabato, a small town that figured in many Palarong Pambansa baseball finals, baseball was my first sport of choice. Thanks to a dedicated coach who developed many players, some of whom went on to play for the national team, kids my age learned to love baseball.But that all came crashing down in 1991, when the Little League World Series scandal hit and baseball in the country has never truly recovered its popularity since then. However, thanks to dedicated sports men all over the country, there are areas where the sport is staying alive despite the lack of support.In Cebu, pre-pandemic, there was a lively baseball community in the northern part and I remember they were planning to send a team to a national age group tournament. In Cebu City, there’s a group who play softball regularly in Talamban and in Pardo, even holding a series of one-day tournaments.Despite the lack of support, softball in Cebu is thriving. I remember a core team made up of players from the Abellana National School making it to a final in the Palarong Pambansa a few years back.A Japanese national and softball enthusiast who is working in Cebu wants to change that and the support the sport needs. Masaya Suzuki, a 28-year-old who works at an ESL company, has been playing softball during weekends in Talamban and has been named as coach of the ANS team. Suzuki, who made the U18 team of the Aichi Prefecture, and went on to study at Kokushikan University on a scholarship, wants to give local softball a boost by providing equipment and holding clinics.A few months back, I thought of buying a couple of gloves so me and my daughter can throw them around but I was turned off at the expensive gloves at the local store.Suzuki knows the importance of a child getting into sport since it is a perfect way to get a degree on a scholarship.“Though I was not academically good, I had many choices of what university to go to thanks to my softball skills. This is exactly how I’d like to help the Cebuano students, to have options in life,” he said.This is a philosophy that I also share, one that former Cebu City Sports Commission head Ed Hayco and current chairman John Pages believe in. Getting students into sports shouldn’t be about trophies but about giving them that leg up in life.Aside from his plan of holding clinics, Suzuki will have a meeting with the board members of the Amateur Softball Association of the Philippines in August, to discuss what he can contribute to the sport in Cebu.I hope they can also discuss plans to establish Asaphil’s presence in Cebu. I think it would be a tremendous boost to the sport to have a local chapter of the national sport association.For years, despite the presence of good players, softball in Cebu has been underappreciated. I remember during one national tournament, players for Cebu City had to jump ship because the support promised didn’t arrive and the players who decided to stick it out had to live with cup noodles during the tournament because they didn’t have enough money for food.I’m hoping Masaya Suzuki’s entry in local softball will be a happy twist for the sport.