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All for growing Philippine volleyball: PVL sets no limit to foreign coaches arrival

JR Isaga

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All for growing Philippine volleyball: PVL sets no limit to foreign coaches arrival

FOREIGN FLAVOR. PVL coaches (from bottom, clockwise) Tai Bundit, Godfrey Okumu, Taka Minowa, Hideo Suzuki, Koji Tsuzurabara

PVL Images/Rappler

With open arms, the PVL welcomes the arrival of multiple foreign coaches to its growing list of teams, as Philippine volleyball continues to rise with a global flair

MANILA, Philippines – In the last few years, the PVL has expanded its borders to an international audience, with great results to show for it.

Since the inception of the first Invitational Conference in 2022, the league has routinely attracted foreign teams and coaches to test the limits of Philippine volleyball and further hone their growing skill sets.

The league even made history in the 2023 Invitationals after Japan’s Kurashiki Ablaze dethroned the Creamline Cool Smashers in the knockout final to become the first-ever non-Filipino PVL champion.

Kicking off the 2024 season, the league’s international integration shows no signs of slowing down, as the contending Petro Gazz Angels tapped Koji Tsuzurabara as their new head coach, while the upstart Farm Fresh Foxies brought in Kurashiki’s head coach Hideo Suzuki as consultant.

Unlike professional basketball leagues, where handing foreigners the head coach title is outright illegal unless loophole tactics are used, the PVL is not going through all that trouble to limit the spread of overseas strategists, at least for now.

“I hope there will be no limits in the future, because at the end of the day, that is a transfer of technologies,” league commissioner Sherwin Malonzo said in Filipino during the 2024 All-Filipino Conference press launch last Wednesday, February 14.

“We don’t have a [volleyball] coaches’ union and the hirings are encouraged by the PNVF (Philippine National Volleyball Federation), so right now, there’s no limit to getting foreign coaches or consultants.”

Apart from Tsuzurabara and Suzuki, other foreigners currently sharing their knowledge in the league are multi-time UAAP and PVL champion Tai Bundit for Rebisco teams Creamline and Choco Mucho, former UP head coach Godfrey Okumu for Galeries Tower, and ex-Ageo Medics coach Taka Minowa for Nxled.

Only Minowa – also the Akari franchise’s director of volleyball operations – holds a head coach title while the rest are either assistants or consultants. Last PVL All-Filipino Conference, Akari also employed Jorge Souza de Brito as chief tactitian before he resigned at the tournament’s conclusion.

De Brito nonetheless still holds the Philippine women’s national team head coach position, with fellow Brazilian Sergio Veloso as his counterpart in the men’s team – a testament to the PNVF’s desire to keep bringing in foreigners.

New technology, new ideas for Philippine volleyball

“The great thing about foreign coaches, they always have a tendency to bring in new technology, new ideas to their players” Malonzo continued. “Hopefully, those ideas translate to the games, and if you see the games, they really move differently, especially Japanese coaches who focus on floor defense.”

“Technically, while coach Okumu is Kenyan, he is also immersed in the Japanese system. It’s beautiful for the Philippine volleyball market. It’s a big thing for us.”

The same way imports force and encourage Filipino players to elevate their games, foreign coaches are expected to do the same for local tacticians, all in the spirit of elevating Philippine volleyball as a whole.

“For me, I’m challenged to do better because I really want to improve my teaching ways,” Choco Mucho head coach Dante Alinsunurin said in Filipino. “That’s so I can translate better to my players the things I want to happen inside the court.”

“I’m happy because in time, more players will adapt to better systems with international coaches,” he continued. “That’s why we hold leagues in the Philippines in the first place, so the game and the players can keep growing, and I’m just happy foreign coaches are here to help that cause.” –

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