If General Santos city has a fighting senator, Iriga City has a spiking mayor.
In what was a Shakey’s V-League first, an active public official played in a sanctioned game, as newly-elected Iriga City Mayor Madelaine Alfelor-Gazmen made her SVL debut Wednesday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
“First time nga e. Actually hindi nga ako varsity dati, I’m just a volleyball enthusiast,” the first female mayor of Iriga City admitted. “Talagang mahilig lang ako maglaro ng volleyball. Lawn Tennis din pero ang pinaka sport ko talaga is softball. Kaya lang nahilig ako sa volleyball.”
During her brief outing in the Lady Oragons elimination round game against the Baguio Summer Spikers, her inexperience on the court showed, but her short stint inspired a lot of people on social media.
FOR THE WIN!!? MAYOR MADELAINE ALFELOR-GAZMEN? #SVLonABSCBN
— Fredilyn Luceña (@x_frddo) June 1, 2016
For Gazmen, the idea of putting up a club team composed of Bicolanas is not about gaining fame nor notoriety. The goal of having an Iriga City-based squad is to inspire the Bicol youth through sports.
“Yung exposure ng mga bata na pina-rioritize ng aming mayor,” shared the Lady Oragon head coach Elvis Pabilona. “Siya yung sumosoporta sa amin. Gusto niyang ma-encourage yung mga bata na maglaro ng volleyball.”
The UP Diliman alumna added that her teammates are not used to the bright lights of the Metro’s top sporting arenas, since their province has no “state-of-the-art” stadiums. “Yung gym nga namin sa Iriga pangit. Hindi ganito. Parang ganun din, madami sa mga bata sa amin kulang sa exposure, kulang sa experience,” said the mayor, who recently won in the last election after taking a three-year hiatus.
“Nangagapa talaga sila at first. Hindi nila alam ang gagawin nila pero dahil sa teamwork, medyo nagiging maganda na rin ang outcome.”
The second-generation politician’s main drive in this endeavor is to hopefully find the next great Bicol-based volleyball star, who will follow the likes of Lizlee Ann Gata, Kyla Atienza, and Kathy Bersola.
“Before ang breeding ground ng volleyball is Bicol. Medyo nawala yun so hopefully eto yung comeback,” Gazmen shared. “Sana makahanap kami ng mga magagaling na players na taga-Bicol and, aside from that, ma-encourage namin ang mga bata na ma-involve sa sports.”
“Hindi lang sa volleyball kung hindi mahanap nila ang sport na where they could excel.”
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