MANILA, Philippines – The year 2016, through the good and tough moments, will forever be bookmarked as a significant turning point for Philippine volleyball. Beyond the collegiate wars and notable player retirements, the Philippines made its own mark on volleyball history.
Manila just happened to be at the center of it all.
The country’s hosting of the FIVB Women’s Club World Championships last October turned out to be a platform for what would eventually become a mark on world volleyball history.
Eczacibasi Istanbul, Turkish club and 2015 champs, made history as the first squad to defend the Women’s Club World title – a feat thousands of Filipino fans witnessed.
Eczacibasi completed the coup by prevailing over Euro powerhouse Pomi Casalmaggiore from Italy in 5 sets, 25-19, 20-25, 25-19, 22-25, 15-11. It was also the first title showdown that required a deciding set – another tick off the volleyball records settled in Manila.
But what caught the attention of the international community was the remarkable audience turnout of the championships. According to a press release from the FIVB official website, a record of 6,700 spectators filled the Mall of Asia Arena for the tournament final – the highest attendance noted in recent history.
“The Club World Championships showcase the best of club volleyball around the world, the best players and the latest innovations in our sport. I would like to thank the organisers for putting on fantastic events for the teams and fans,” shared FIVB President Dr. Ary S. Graça F.
Filipino volleyball fans also got to witness several Olympians in action, with the likes of Serbia’s Tijana Boskovic and China’s Zhu Ting going up against our own homebred talents. PSL-F2 Logistics Manila, the country’s representative, may have failed to grab a semis spot but this development could yield nothing but positive results for the growth of the sport in the Philippines.
“The Women’s Club World Championship broke new ground with the Philippines, providing Philippine volleyball with a new opportunity to grow and its passionate fans with a chance to enjoy the best of international women’s volleyball.”
Busy year ahead
2017 will prove to be another groundbreaking year as the country is set to participate in 5 international competitions.
A selection of PSL All-Stars will parade at the Hong Kong Invitational Tournament on March 10 to 12 as well as the Thai-Denmark Super League on March 24 to 31 in Bangkok. Reigning Grand Prix champs Foton Tornadoes are meanwhile expected to fly to Kazakhstan on May 23 to 31 for the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship.
The country was also tapped to host the 19th Asian Seniors Women’s Volleyball Championship on August 9 to 17, where the continent’s best athletes square off.
The ASEAN Grand Prix aims to conquer new heights as Manila takes part in the inaugural 4-nation meet on September 14 to 17. Clubs from neighboring countries Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand will see action against local talents in a home-and-away type of tournament happening this year.
“This project has been in the pipeline for the past 3 years so I’m really glad that it will finally push through this year,” PSL president Ramon Suzara said of the competition, which is reported to be patterned after the Asean Basketball League.
A national team is also currently in the works as the Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas Inc. (LVPI) aims to tap the most committed players to represent the flag at the Malaysian Southeast Asian Games on August 19 to 31.
In hindsight, the sport can still be regarded as a growing community in the Philippines. But with recent successes of both the collegiate and professional leagues, players getting recognition from the international assemblage, and the country’s triumphant hosting of world-class tourneys, Philippine volleyball might just be on the right track. – Rappler.com