Philippine National Volleyball Federation president Tats Suzara felt disappointed with what transpired over the last weekend.
What should have been a free set of games and mileage for the Philippine Women’s National Volleyball Team courtesy of the Premier Volleyball League ended up being declined by the team manager of National University’s Mariano See Diet.
Though PWNVT head coach Jorge Edson Souza de Brito should have had the final say on what program he wants for the team, they were bound by See Diet as 12 of the 14 players from the pool came from NU, namely Ivy Lacsina, Mhicaela Belen, Shaira Jardio, Evangeline Alinsug, Cess Robles, Sheena Toring, Jen Nierva, Nicole Mata, Alyssa Solomon, Camilla Lamina, Kamille Cal, and Joyme Cagande.
See Diet also showed to CNN Sportsdesk a contract saying that they are only allowing their players to compete in the AVC Cup for Women which takes place from August 21 to 29.
Souza de Brito recommended to the PNVF that they needed more games heading into the continental meet.
“When you lend your players to the national team, you must follow the plans and programs. This is no one-shot deal,” said Suzara during an interview with CNN Sportsdesk with Andrei Felix. “Where can you see a national team na namimili ng tournaments? Gusto nila AVC Cup lang.
“So you train them for weeks tapos after AVC Cup they leave?”
A national team program has always been fluid.
With tuneup games hard to book, the Invitational Conference would have been a perfect opportunity for the PWNVT, said Suzara.
Not only that, but the PNVF was also planning to send the NU-laden team to Thailand from September 9 to 11 for the first leg of the ASEAN Grand Prix.
“You train them for four weeks tapos aalis na naman sila. Problema na naman yan kung sino papadala sa ASEAN Grand Prix,” lamented Suzara.
“Our coach is a professional coach, he knows what he is doing. He is an Olympic gold medalist in Barcelona. The players should understand that everybody gets injured. Kahit sa injured puwede ka mainjure. The PVL is good exposure because the coach decided that mag-PVL final round, AVC Cup, then ASEAN Grand Prix. When you are committed to the national team, you have a coaching staff there already. You have a PT, strength and conditioning coach, who are already part of the staff. You must be ready to be part of the national team. Hindi ito UAAP or school tournament na pagdating dito tapos aalis na kagad,” he continued.
“When you are talking about the national team, you are representing the country. You cannot choose which tournament you will play in. Once you are inside the national team, you have to respect the federation’s calendar and the coach’s program. When you are on a national team, you are committed to playing a series of tournaments. Hindi puwedeng three weeks lang kami. We are trying to a long-term program for this team because they have a good future. They are also UAAP champions.”
Less than 24 hours after See Diet pulled out the Lady Bulldogs for the PVL, the PNVF decided to do a quick reboot, removing the NU student-athletes from the national team pool with the best local team in the Invitationals being awarded the slot to the AVC.
Suzara defended the move, baring that Souza de Brito had already had enough with adjusting to the conditions of NU.
He then cited Filipinas head coach Alen Stajcic not having problems from the schools when he sends the teams to friendlies here or abroad.
“You are a coach. You should discipline the players. When you are on a national team, you are committed to playing a lot of tournaments. Look at what happened to the Filipinas [Philippine Women’s National Football Team]. They worked for four years, continuously training, and playing tournaments everywhere. So, this is a chance for them.”
Erstwhile-national team captain Jen Nierva went on social media soon after saying that their “safety was the topmost priority.”
Suzara bared that the then-PWNVT team was already figuring in scrimmages with China’s Under-20 team who are in town as well.
It made the federation president wonder what difference would it make if they joined the PVL which was simulated with the grind that they were supposed to experience in the AVC Cup.
“This team had a scrimmage with the Chinese team so it’s not a reason for injury because they have already been playing with the Chinese team. And then the coach wanted to play in the PVL, then AVC Cup, and then the ASEAN Grand Prix. The reasons are somewhat mababaw. Medyo choosy,” he said.
“Once you lend your players to the national team, let the federation and the national team head coach do its job. Hindi puwede yung everytime, may mangingialam. Hindi na ito UAAP e. Yun ang request ko sana kay Engr. Bing pero napuno na si head coach Jorge. Lahat pinapakialaman e. Once you lend your players, let the head coach do his job,” he continued.
“We take care of them. We gave them allowances and everything they need sa training. Hindi naman puwedeng one-sided lang na sasabihin nila na, they wanted to play. They did not want to play! It’s very simple. If they wanted to play, they will play for the country. Lumalabas, sabi nila injury from the UAAP, e why did they join the national team? Why?”
Currently, NU’s only tournaments for the year are the Super Volleyball League and the V-League — both preseason tournaments for next year’s collegiate volleyball season.
At the end of the day, all of the parties involved have moved on. In the future, Suzara hopes that there will be a clear line between the national team program and the universities and clubs.
“I have high respect for the NU players and Engineer Diet but there are also lines and boundaries na hanggang dito lang dapat. Let the national team coach and federation run the program.”