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Olympic stint a long shot but not impossible for PH men’s beach volleyball



By now, the Philippine Men’s Beach Volleyball Team needs no introductions, at least according to Head Coach Eric Lecain.

Lecain was hired by the Philippine Volleyball Federation four years ago to handle the men’s side of the sport, and has since witnessed the growth of what he calls “one of the best unknown teams ever.”

“Nobody’s ever heard of these guys, but they have been winning on the Asia tour all the time,” Lecain said. “On the women’s side, let’s see if we can turn some of those big names into big beach volleyball players, and all of sudden people will start noticing.”

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Olympic stint a long shot but not impossible for PH men's beach volleyball

Jade Becaldo

Unbeknownst to many, the American mentor has handled the likes of Edmar Bonono, Edward Ybanez, Jade Becaldo, Tippy Tipgos, and more — all big names in beach volleyball — and has steered them to the Asian level of the 2016 Olympic qualifiers.

While that road has already closed, Lecain believes making the highest level of international competition is not impossible for the archipelago.

“We started playing internationally four years ago. We’ve been playing and struggling and eventually we broke through and beat a lot of big teams. Last year is a big year for us. We beat a lot of big names in the Asian Beach Games and the AVC. It is not impossible to think that the Philippines will be in the top level,” he said.

And with a semi-professional beach volleyball tournament finally kicking off locally, Lecain sees a spark for the nation’s foreseeable future when it comes to the discipline.

“We will see how it takes off after this. After the event last week (Beach Royals), people were asking me about it and there was so much interest. It is just a small tournament we put up last week and now it is a big hit. It is a full house. There is not one seat in the stands,” Lecain said while at the PSL Beach Volleyball Challenge Cup.

With a breeding ground for more beach volleyball athletes, Lecain adds a long-term program, which includes finding players committed to playing, should jumpstart the rise of the Philippines.

“We have to find players that have the attitude of playing only beach volleyball. They don’t want to be too involved (in indoor) and that is the only thing they want to do. We have to be able to support a beach volleyball yeam. Right now we don’t have an actual, definite national team although we have been playing for the last few years so that is the first thing we should do. Make ourselves a national team and support our national team, really focus on just beach volleyball,” he said.

The immediate goal for the men’s beach volleyball side is to be among the top nations in Asia, and as far as he is concerned, Lecain is very positive the country can make it all the way to the next Olympics.

“Our biggest goal is go back to the AVC Asian Beach Circuit and see if we can get to the higher levels. We are in the 20s right now, we want to be in the top 10. Let’s see if we can get a medal. And play again in the Asian Beach Volleyball Championships. It is a tall hill to climb but if we keep pushing, (who knows.),” he added.

“This year we could have made it although we had problems. But the way they do the Olympic qualification now, anybody can try and they don’t need a million dollars. I think if we keep staying on the Asian Circuit and the big events, by the time 2020 comes we will be ready to play.”

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