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Stating the Problem



Bureaucracy. Rhetoric. The interests of the few instead of the many. I might as well be talking about any number of national issues that eat up citizens’ lives but here we are talking about Philippine sports instead.

A few weeks ago the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) saw fit to announce that they will scrap tryouts for the national teams for volleyball and instead hand-pick the players who will compete in upcoming international tournaments. This came as the national sports association in charge, the Philippine Volleyball Federation (PVF), already held tryouts and released lineups last October 2014. The move by the POC effectively dissolved the much-heralded Amihan and Bagwis lineups and has thrown Philippine volleyball into disarray.

Who is now in charge of the governance of the sport? And more importantly, why this particular course of action for the POC? The Asian Women’s U-23 Volleyball Championship will be held in May of this year—why this course of action so close to the competition?

No answers to questions

Beyond officially crafted statements, it’s hard to really say what happened. Word is that “internal conflict” within the PVF allegedly forced the POC to take over as to “prevent sanctions” from the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) and the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB). But in what can only be called rash and inconsiderate actions, how does scrapping the entire roster of players and coaching staff improve Philippine volleyball at all?

For any athlete, it is one of the highest honors to represent his/her country. By dissolving the PVF, the POC may have averted “sanctions” but they also nullified the efforts of all the individuals that took part in the selection process. The worst thing is that the move doesn’t even make strategic sense.

What could have transpired instead?

If our officials both in the PVF and the POC did indeed have the stakeholders in mind—the players, the coaches, the fans—perhaps we could have seen a more level-headed resolution.

The POC could have opted to retain the national team, at least for the forthcoming Asian Women’s U-23 Championship, and then they could have re-evaluated the team’s performance and potential ahead of the Southeast Asian Games after the May tournament. Perhaps because by the mere fact that those players had gone through a rigorous and well-publicized selection process and had the chance to train together would have also been taken into account in this hypothetical.

And since we’re already playing out should have’s and could have’s, perhaps there wouldn’t even have been a need to dissolve the PVF in the first place. There would have been no “internal conflict” because the officials in question would have peacefully resolved their issues like grown men and women. But instead we’ve all been collectively set back by the inability, in more than one institution, to keep the politics out.

In the words of Gretchen Ho, “we’re back to square one.” Let bureaucratic squabbles, lofty promises, and private interests flourish. The game isn’t volleyball- it’s politics.

How’s that for Philippine sports?