TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines – For Fille Cainglet, there is no way for volleyball to go but up.
Indeed, as some of the biggest stars in Philippine volleyball are in town to slug it out against each other in the 5th Gov. Alvaro Antonio Friendship Games here.
Leading a star-studded Tuguegarao lineup with Sue Roces, Angela Benting, Dindin Santiago and more, the former Ateneo open spiker expressed her delight to bring volleyball to far-away provinces like Cagayan.
“This is very good not only for volleyball but to the community as well. Volleyball should not be exclusive to Manila. By bringing the game to far-away places, we get to inspire more people,” the former Lady Eagle said.
As a Palarong Pambansa product herself, Cainglet also added that this kind of games, albeit being just friendly exhibition games, might spark more interest among the locals and even kick-start their own grassroots programs.
“Who knows, after they watched us, their schools might put up their own varsity teams, their students might get discovered, you will never know.”
'We need to strengthen its foundations'
Cainglet however hinted her concern on the possibility of interest in volleyball dying down, like what has happened to other sports in the country in recent years.
“Yes, volleyball is big, but we need to strengthen its foundations not only in Manila but in the provinces as well. I hope to see other governments emulating what Cagayan has been doing with their sports program,” the lady from Bacolod told Rappler after winning their first game against a Pangasinan-based squad.
Cainglet has catapulted herself into stardom since entering Ateneo’s volleyball team and becoming a part of the famous Fab Five with fellow blue-chip recruits Dzi Gervacio, Gretchen Ho, Jem Ferrer, and A Nacachi.
“It’s an honor to be recognized like this. It feels good being an inspiration to other people and we really are just giving back what this [volleyball] has given us.”
After taking on the helm of the crowd darlings Ateneo for five years, Cainglet has become a household name herself and she has hard work with a bit of luck to thank for.
“It all started during our rookie season. We really worked hard ever since. Eventually, we were able to generate a following and swerte na rin that volleyball grew during our time,” quipped Cainglet.
Even during weekdays here in the scorching Tuguegarao City, volleyball is red-hot and Cainglet would be constantly cheered on for every point and even mistake she commits.
“What we need to do to sustain this momentum is create more leagues, continue supporting volleyball, and bringing the level of competition higher,” the 5-foot-5 volleybelle said.
On the influx of foreign players to our college leagues, Cainglet is not against it but acknowledges the pros and cons of it in the long run.
“The good thing about is that it raises the level of play here. Nakakatulong sila, we learn from them, nakikita namin ang laro nila. They are not just regular players. They play in the international level and it's healthy for us to get the opportunity to play with them,” Cainglet said.
“The con to this however is the danger that we might focus here [foreign imports] more instead of looking for talents of our own.”
Off to the corporate world
In the last couple of years, schools have recruited Thai players to boost their squad. In these Friendship Games as a matter of fact, Cainglet is playing alongside Jang Bualee and Utaiwan.
“Pero I still hope that by learning from them, we will be the ones naman to send players to our neighbors in Asia.”
As for herself, the superstar from Ateneo has already planned to pursue working in the corporate sector after her playing years and studies in Ateneo are up. But the 23-year-old says that she is not hanging her jersey yet.
“Given the chance, gusto ko pa rin maglaro. As a guest player siguro. Although working in an office is a plan, I intend to join the Superliga pa rin. Volleyball is a part of me. Volleyball is my identity.” - Rappler.com