By Julius Manicad
The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) yesterday made a turnaround from its earlier stand and will now support the participation of the women’s volleyball team in the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia.
The PSC Board of Commissioners approved the financial request made earlier by the Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. (LVPI) for the prestigious quadrennial meet set in Jakarta and Palembang next week.
A PSC insider said the decision was unanimous despite some board members earlier hedging on giving the volleybelles the green light to compete in the Asian Games for falling short of the criteria set by previous chief of mission Julian Camacho.
LVPI president Peter Cayco expressed gratitude to the PSC for the support. But his group politely turned down the offer.
Cayco said they have committed to their sponsors, which are expecting nothing but an impressive finish in the country’s first participation in women’s volleyball tournament for the first time in 36 years.
“We want to thank the PSC for this, but we can’t accept the funding because we’ve already committed to our sponsors,” said Cayco, who was given a three-year mandate by the nine-man LVPI board of trustees in an election last week.
Although newly-appointed chief of mission Richard Gomez already gave the volleybelles the go-signal to compete, government through PSC officer in charge Ramon Fernandez still maintained the agency was not giving support.
The LVPI had to source funding from the private sector, paving the way for the federation to send the players to Japan for a two-week training before the competition.
“Yes, bridge, basketball and volleyball will be covered,” said the PSC in a press statement that confirmed the financial aid to the three groups.
Aside from the airfare, accommodation and allowance, the PSC was also to provide luggage, parade and competition uniforms, tracksuits and shoulder other related expenses to the women’s volleyball team and the rest of the 272-strong national contingent.
Bannered by skipper Aby Marano and stars Jaja Santiago, Dindin Manabat, Kim Fajardo, Alyssa Valdez and Mika Reyes, the volleybelles are tipped to come up with a good performance in this tourney that serves as their preparation for the 30th Southeast Asian Games, which the country will host next year.
After the Asian Games, the squad will fly to Nakhon Ratchasima in Thailand for the AVC Asian Cup and will continue with its program until March of 2020.
“Rest assured that we will still go there and play our hearts out because this marks the return of the women’s volleyball team in the Asian Games for the first time in 36 years. We may not bring home the gold medal, but we will play hard and make the country proud,” Cayco said.