Fair Play: Why Cebu's Olympic dream is crazy

IN 2005, when I covered the beach volleyball event in the Southeast Asian Games, the Philippines Team B played so badly that I wrote that “It seemed Cebu’s average collegiate teams could have beaten them.”

The story, which also saw print in Sun.Star Bacolod, attracted reproach and the paper’s sports editor told me the next day, “You’re so nasty, those are our players.”

I said, “Yes, they’re our players but they are playing so badly! Why are they even in the national team?”

He said, “No, I meant they are our players. They’re from here.”

It seems the lone criteria the two players passed for making it to the national team was that they were from Bacolod, and the powers-that-be decided that it was best to give the home fans a team to cheer about, stupidly ignoring that fact that because it was a Philippine team, anyone donning the colors of the national team would be adopted by the home fans.

If you think football was bad pre-2010, take a look at volleyball. How could a sport that has a genuine mass base, is popular and has a large pool not take off?

Next to basketball, volleyball was the sport of the masa, just take a look at the dayon-dayon volleyball and the guys who play them.

Anyway, there has been some shakeup in the PVF and the selection for the national team--or the farcical process--has been revised thanks in part to Cebu and the Philippine National Games.

In 2012, Jonrey Sasing and Edward Ybañez beat Mike Abria and Jade Becaldo in the finals of the men’s beach volleyball event. Before that, Sasing and Ybanez beat national team mainstays Arnel Amadeo and Buensuceso Sayson in the semifinals, a victory that led the PSC to ask a similar question I asked in the 2005 SEA Games, if they are not the best in the country, why are they in the team?

And to show that it was not a fluke, Sasing and Ybañez won the same title again in 2013, against the same pair, while the women’s title was won by Jusabelle Brillo and Apple Saraum.

These twin victories show that when it comes to beach volleyball in the country, Cebu sets the bar, so what’s the logical next step?

To know where the country stands in the international scene.

That’s the next move of the Cebu City Sports Commission and some may call it too ambitious but I think that if you want to grow, then get out of your comfort zone. If you keep winning in the national scene, then get to the international scene.

This month, CCSC will hold the Olympic Developmental series tournament, and the top players will represent the country in the Olympic and Asian Games qualifiers.

Whether we make it or not, is not the point. For the past two years, Cebu has dominated the beach volleyball national scene, just as it did for most of the decade when the players had no CCSC supporting them.

Of course, the CCSC could have gone the easy route by fielding our PNG champions in the qualifiers but that’s just like copying the ills of the previous programs. If you want to send the best, then go look for the best players.

You could say that this Olympic dream is crazy and too ambitious, but sometimes, the crazy stuff works.

The Philippines can continue dreaming of Olympic glory if we want, but that dream will never become a reality if you don’t take the first move.

This tournament is the first move. Let’s see where this crazy journey ends.


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