• Lucking out

    0

    ROMY P. MARIÑAS

    A Filipino national volleyball official this week said the country’s women’s team winning a bronze medal in the 29th Southeast Asia Games (SEA Games) in August this year is “acceptable” but that he actually is aiming for gold or silver.

    Ano ka, sinusuwerte?

    Well, in his dreams because obviously he was not placing his money where his mouth was when he made the bold but ludicrous prediction for a podium finish for the women’s squad.

    A little over five months away from the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games, the Philippines is yet to form the national team, which would probably be made up of collegiate players from the NCAA or the UAAP or both.

    Meanwhile, the crack Thai contingent that most likely will figure in the championship match in Malaysia against probably Vietnam or Indonesia has been sharpening its claws in World Volleyball Grand Prix or World Volleyball League, both Tier A tournaments.

    The eventual Philippine national team would be lucky if it got past Malaysia or Singapore.

    This is not to ridicule the ability and determination of the 12 players who presumably would be justifiably proud to represent the Philippine six in Kuala Lumpur.

    But you just don’t bank on collegiate volleybelles whose popularity may have exceeded their actual volleyball skills for them to be able to hold high the country’s flag in the biennial SEA Games even if, in our opinion, it is just a Tier 2 or Tier 3 event in the context of wqrld volleyball.

    Television killed competitive women’s volleyball in the country (let’s not even talk about Philippine men’s volleyball) where looks seem to be marketed more than spiking or blocking techniques in order to sell fastfood items or bottled water.

    Besides, women’s volleyball in the Philippines a few decades (!) ago was at par with or superior to Thailand, partly because the players then—only few of them were from university teams—were less distracted by mobile phones and selfies and other curses of sports in general.

    Also Filipino volleyball officials were speaking as one, with turf wars practically unheard of unlike now when the country has had to bear with more than one “official” association or federation.

    Look what such wars have done to chess, swimming, track and field—Wesley So has long refused to represent the Philippines, tankers have lagged behind their Southeast Asian rivals and athletics has relied on Filipino-Americans.

    Women’s volleyball especially is headed that way, too, if all we can come up with are players from exclusive private or business-run schools.

    If our volleyball “officials” prefer to limit the recruiting to these colleges or universities, then we will have to say goodbye to even an “acceptable” bronze-medal finish in the 29th SEA Games.

    Better still, abolish girls or women’s volleyball in the Palarong Pambansa.

    Do we even have a single female volleyball player from Mountain Province or Tawi-Tawi who is a product of these national games for young Filipino athletes?

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