CAGAYAN DE ORO — Ever since establishing himself as one of the best volleyball coaches in the Philippines, Sammy Acaylar has always wanted to return to his hometown, Cagayan de Oro, and give back to his fellow Cagayanons.
On Saturday night, Acaylar finally realized his wish as his team, Gerflor, took on Akari in the opening game of the Premier Volleyball League Second All-Filipino Conference double-header at the Aquilino Q. Pimentel International Convention Center here.
“It’s a long story. Matagal ko nang inambisyon na makapag-contribute at makatulong dito sa Cagayan de Oro City kasi dito ako galing eh. Sobrang saya kasi nakabalik ako at PVL pa ang naglaro rito,” said Acaylar, who received a plaque of recognition after the match alongside fellow Cagayanon, Erika Raagas of the Chargers.
“I am so proud. Di ko rin akalain na bigyan nila ako ng acknowledgement na for how many years, yan ang inaantay ko eh. Kasi sa Manila binibigyan ako, sa Cagayan de Oro City ‘di nila ako nabigyan. Pero thank you ako dun kay Mayor kasi ibinigay niya ang dapat ibigay sa akin,” he added.
Acaylar, who regularly goes home to Cagayan de Oro during Christmas and New Year, said that he was glad to have the opportunity to see his family after less than a year.
The Perpetual men’s volleyball head coach also shared that his siblings went out of their way to greet him at the airport and even watched the match live.
“Nandito ang family ko ngayon, nanonood sila. Kasi wala na akong tatay at nanay, mga kapatid ko na lang ang nandito. Of course, happy kasi nakita ko sila. Nu’ng pagdating pa lang sa airport nandoon na sila,” said the decorated tactician.
Acaylar and the Defenders were recently hounded by salary issues, but the former national team head coach reminded his wards to stay focused on things that they can control and that is to perform well on the court.
“Of course, lagi ko namang sinasabi sa mga players ko na ang problema nandyan lang ‘yan eh. We have to solve the problem by playing a good game doon sa mga remaining games namin,” said Acaylar.
“Yung mga players naman nag-react ng maganda. Kasi sabi ko sa kanila, sa kanila rin naman babalik kapag di sila naglaro ng maganda. So sinet aside na muna namin lahat,” he added.
After receiving a warm welcome from fans, the NCAA champion coach hopes the league can return to Cagayan de Oro in the future. Additionally, he wants to continue giving back to his hometown.
“Alam mo di ko akalain na ganito pala ka-supportive ang CDO. So happy ako. Isa ito sa mga city na tinangkilik ang volleyball. Sabi ko nga sana next time mayroon pang ganito.”