FIRST TIME IN 36 YEARS
Even without government support, the highly popular Philippine national women’s volleyball team will still see action in the 18th Asian Games.
Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. (LVPI) vice president Peter Cayco yesterday reiterated his all-out support to the team, saying that the Asian Games is a major part of its program in its quest for glory in the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games next year.
Cayco said if the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) refuses to finance its participation, they would have no choice but to look for private funding so that their participation and the entire program would not be hampered.
Bannered by the brightest volleyball stars of this generation in Aby Marano, Jaja Santiago, Mika Reyes and Alyssa Valdez, hopes are high on the women’s squad after announcing that it would make an appearance in the prestigious quadrennial conclave after a 36-year absence.
But that excitement turned into frustration as the PSC stressed that only those who passed the criteria set by the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) will be funded by the government.
Based on the POC guidelines, only those who emerged with a gold and silver medal in the previous SEA Games will be allowed to compete as well as those who shone in higher level tourneys such as the Asian Games and world championships.
The volleybelles, unfortunately, settled for fourth place in the previous SEA Games while finishing eighth in the AVC Asian Senior Women’s Championship last year.
Still, Cayco believes that they deserve to be part of the national delegation.
“These athletes deserve to go to the Asian Games. They are sacrificing and working hard to prepare for the competition,” Cayco said, adding that they are already in the final stretch of their discussion with some sponsors who are willing to bankroll the participation of the team.
“We won’t allow this development to hamper our goal of bringing the country back to international prominence. If they won’t fund us, we will make an appeal. But we will still find a way to compete in the Asian Games.”
Cayco explained that the squad is training regularly and is set to see action as guest team in the ongoing Philippine Superliga (PSL) Invitational Conference.
After the PSL, the team would fly to Japan for a two-week training starting Aug. 2 before embarking on the Asian Games in Jakarta that unwraps on Aug. 18 at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium.
From Jakarta, the squad will roll to Nakhon Ratchasima in Thailand for the AVC Asian Senior Championship in September before preparing for the SEA Games.
Cayco and other federation officials sat down with Asian Games’ deputy chief of mission Robert Bachmann to present the blueprint of their program two weeks ago.
It appeared that Bachmann liked what he heard.
“They presented it to me clearly and I’m impressed with what they explained,” said Bachmann, also the chairman of the POC membership committee and president of squash federation, in a previous statement.
Bachmann and chief of mission Richard Gomez already submitted the final composition of the national roster to the Indonesia Asian Games Organizing Committee.
The POC general assembly is expected to approve it following the confirmation from the POC executive council in a meeting on Thursday.
Cayco said the road to the Asian Games is littered with challenges, but the federation is willing to do everything to help the team achieve its goal.
“We want to thank the POC for giving us a chance,” said Cayco. “Rest assured that we would do everything to represent the country well and put it back to the Asian volleyball map.”