Long playing for rival leagues, Jaja Santiago (left) and Alyssa Valdez can now look forward to a synchronized national team calendar. —INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS
The goal is ambitious: A competitive force in Asia and a Southeast Asian champion in two years.
Time will tell how doable the target is, but at least, the Philippine National Volleyball Federation Inc. (PNVF) has a great start—the stars of the women’s scene are united in vowing to help the country achieve those lofty goals.
“We see a bright future,” Charo Soriano, the Beach Volleyball Republic founder long associated with one side of the political fence that used to divide the sport, told the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday. “When we become inclusive it’s easier to grow. We will reach out to far-flung areas and extend the beauty of volleyball. This is just the first step. A lot of things need to be done.”
The appearance of Soriano and other stars from rival leagues during the Forum certainly creates an aura of unity in a sport long wracked by division.
And PNVF president Ramon “Tats’’ Suzara, riding on that wave of cooperation, is wasting no time to get things done. Suzara said the new federation would approve during its induction of officers and first board meeting on Wednesday a national team commission whose objective is to capture a gold medal in the Cambodia Southeast Asian (SEA) Games two years from now.
Suzara is likewise targeting to bring both the men’s and women’s PH volley teams in the elite circle of the top eight national teams in the continent.
“We have to craft a set of guidelines as well as follow a calendar of competitions,’’ said Suzara during the Forum.
“In this calendar, there is a national team period which all countries are following. All national teams are focused from October to May while the leagues will be played from June to September,’’ added Suzara.
The solidarity of once rival personalities has given Suzara the ability to wield a type of control no volleyball leader has brandished in recent memory. The new volleyball chief is now able to lay down the law for leagues to follow, averting a lack of preparation for international meets that has long weighed down national teams.
“We’re happy that there are plans to help the growth of Philippine volleyball. This is just the beginning,” said Alyssa Valdez, long the face of the sport in the country and of the Premier Volleyball League, which will now have to toe the line, along with rival Philippine Superliga, whose two stalwarts, Aby Maraño and Jaja Santiago were also in the Forum.
According to Suzara, a 25-man pool for each of the men’s and women’s squads will be formed to see action in at least four continental championships this year while beach volleyball will play in four to six tournaments overseas.
They are also looking to compete in the coming Vietnam SEA Games near the end of the year, but Suzara bared that the goal is the gold medal in 2023 Cambodia. The last time the women’s volleyball team clinched the gold was in 1993 in Singapore.
“We will have a seven-man board that will professionally run the national team,’’ Suzara said. INQ
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