Volleyball – life is better at the beach

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ANGELINE GERVACIO

Despite the fact that the rainy season has started, nothing stops the Philippines from having an “all-year round summer season.” And this would not be complete without beach volleyball. In a country that boasts of beautiful beaches, it is unusual that beach volleyball is not one of Filipino’s favorite sports.

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There have been efforts to develop the sport at least in Manila. Since 2005, there has been the Cantada Beach Volleyball event wherein teams are invited to play in a weekend tilt in their beach court in Taguig. In 2006, the UAAP introduced beach volleyball as a demo sport and over the years it has been attracting more attention from the growing community of volleyball fans. There was also the Petron Beach Volleyball Tournament, which held events in Manila, Pangasinan and Palawan. Philippine Superliga started putting up annual tournaments since 2015. The Nestea Beach Volleyball Tournaments went on from 1997 until last year. It was an intercollegiate event, wherein the best collegiate team from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao are invited to play. Although they discontinued this annual event, Nestea has recently partnered up with Beach Volleyball Republic (BVR) a group that aims to popularize the sport in the Philippines.

My former Ateneo teammates, Fille Cainglet-Cayetano, Bea Tan, Charo Soriano, Gretchen Ho and I founded the group in 2015. We felt that there were more opportunities that would open through this sport, considering that a lot of the best collegiate indoor athletes were primarily beach volleyball players. We aim to bring high-level of competition across our country through exhibition games, tournaments and of course giving back to the community through our Sandroots workshops for the youth. At the end of the day, our goal is to honor the country by assembling a competent team to compete in the international arena.

BVR believes that the Filipinos would have a better chance of excelling in international tournaments through beach volleyball as compared to its indoor counterpart. Although these two sports are greatly similar, they are still considered entirely different disciplines. Beach volleyball is played by two players on each side of the court as compared to the six-man lineup in indoor volleyball. This means that as a beach volleyball player, you need to be good in just about every skill— serving, passing, digging, setting, and attacking. And when it comes to attacking, beach volleyball players tend to be more cerebral than indoor players. One would see as much lobs or placement shots as hard kills that are staple moves in indoor volleyball. In addition to this, there are other elements beach volleyball athletes have to deal with since it is played outdoors. There’s the sand, sun, wind and sometime rain that one has to deal with during competition. And most times, there is no third man to substitute a player with.

Recently, I had the opportunity to play beach volleyball with some locals in Long Beach, California. As soon as you stroll down their boulevard, you can already see the number of beach volleyball nets propped up along its wide shoreline. And I have yet to see how crazier it is in the more popular beaches like Manhattan or Huntington Beach! Beach volleyball, had created a bond among these people, wherein they become a close-knit community through the sport. Anyone could just drop by any court and join a game! Parents would bring their kids and teach them the sport that they grew to love, friends would hangout in the afternoon over a few games, and strangers would forge new relationships through it.

I look forward to the day when beach volleyball would create the same kind of community here that I was welcomed into in Long Beach. I can say that it is almost the same warmth and connection that Philippine shoreline communities offer their guests. I appreciate all the efforts to popularize the sport locally. Along with the rise of popularity of indoor volleyball in the country, I believe it’s just a matter of time for beach volleyball to become a top favorite sport among Pinoys.

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