Dying Throes

By Hidelito Pascual |April 30,2014 - 09:58 AM

Just two years ago, volleyball, in all forms was flourishing here in Cebu.

This was primarily achieved through the Governor’s Cup which had the full support of then Governor Gwendolyn Garcia.

This was a province wide tournament, and involved athletes from the elementary grades, to those who had long graduated from college, but remained with the sport because they are still physically fit and still had the skills to play against the best in the sport.

The positive results were very obvious.

Emerging talents were regularly produced from the different municipalities and cities in Cebu.

Most of them went on to become star athletes in different high schools that nurtured the sport, and most went on to become prized recruits by the different varsity teams in the city and in Metro Manila.

The island province wide tournament began with area tournaments and culminated with the championships which ran for several weekends, mostly at the CICC in Mandaue City.

The tournament was the pride of the local volleyball association. It was touted as the biggest volleyball tournament in the country, which it probably was. I sensed a tinge of envy on the part of PAVA officials whenever they came to witness the culmination of the tournament. It was just a tournament that was hard to duplicate.

This was before the newly found popularity of women’s volleyball in the UAAP, helped to the nth by television coverage and the exploitation of the Ateneo-La Salle rivalry.

Today volleyball in Cebu is back to its old status-playing second fiddle to basketball and with the CESAFI volleyball as the only big ticket tournament hereabouts.

What happened?

I already foresaw the demise knowing that the tournament was not really run by the local volleyball association, but by Governor Gwen’s people at the Capitol. Knowing that Gov. Gwen was in her last term, I was a bit wary because I did not see any contingency plan to supplant the provincial government’s sponsorship.

All I got were hazy answers every time I posed the question, “What happens after the possible exit of the provincial government.”

On my own, I attempted a stab in the dark by writing to newly elected Governor Hilario Davide Jr. if he could continue the province’s support for the volleyball tournament, even in a very limited form.

At least the prestige and popularity of the tournament would have been valuable in asking the private sector, and maybe LGU’s, to chip in and continue the well-intentioned program.

Unfortunately, the good Governor probably had other priorities in mind, or the provincial treasury was a little thin at the time. Hopefully, it was not because it was a program which was started by his predecessor.

Anyway, volleyball will stay alive in places like Mandaue City where those who have gained something from playing the sport continue to give back to volleyball by scouting, training and coaching teams in the barangay, elementary and high schools.

It was no surprise that the teams from Mandaue City were constant winners in the Governor’s Cup, because it was not difficult to organize a team, in whatever form, because even without the tournament, the city had a dedicated coterie of volleyball trainers and coaches, spread all over the 27 barangays, who does it for volleyball without expecting anything in return.

The assistance by the city government also makes a lot of difference.

The 2014 Mayor’s Cup was recently concluded, and in the absence of the province wide tournament, could stand as the biggest tournament in Cebu, for the moment. I am sure the seeds for a purposeful volleyball program is still there.

I am sure Liloan, Talisay City, Catmon, Lapulapu City and other places where the love for the sport remain, will continue turning out excellent male and female volleyball players.

However, without the likes of the Governor’s Cup, most of them will remain mired in obscurity and stay as unpolished diamonds.

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