‘No tryout, no national team’ has been the firm stance of Philippine National Volleyball Federation president Tats Suzara.
This, after only 16 invitees from the women’s indoor team pool attended the tryouts held in Subic last Wednesday.
In contrast, 31 players attended the men’s indoor team tryouts. Meanwhile, 40 players arrived for the beach volleyball team.
With this declaration from Suzara, nine players that will compose the 20-woman national team for both the 31st Southeast Asian Games and, hopefully, the 2021 AVC Seniors Women’s Championship will be student-athletes. These include Eya Laure, Kamille Cal, Mhicaela Belen, Ivy Lacsina, Alyssa Solomon, Jennifer Nierva, Faith Nisperos, Imee Hernandez and Bernadette Pepito.
Though draconian to some, it is right for Suzara since the players made a huge sacrifice just to go to the tryouts.
But for PNVF National Team commission head Tony Boy Liao, it is still not final. The board has yet to discuss it for transparency purposes.
“Actually, right now as you know, the tryouts just finished. According to the president, no tryouts, no national team,” Liao said on Radyo5’s Power & Play.
“For him, that’s the right idea, but it will still be the executive board who will decide on all of these things.”
The PNVF board consists of Suzara, Liao, chairman Ariel Paredes, vice president Arnel Hajan, secretary general Don Caringal, treasurer Rod Roque, auditor Yul Benosa; and members Ricky Palou, Charo Soriano, Carmela Gamboa, Karl Chan, Fr. Vic Calvo, and Atty. Wharton Chan.
For Liao, the country’s best chance of ending the country’s 16-year podium drought in the regional meet is to still have the veterans in the team.
The “stars” who were not able to take part in the tryout were Alyssa Valdez, Myla Pablo, Kalei Mau, Ces Molina, Kat Tolentino, Rhea Dimaculangan, Kim Fajardo, Alohi Robins-Hardy, Jia Morado, Jasmine Nabor, Dindin Santiago, MJ Philips, Kim Kianna Dy, Risa Sato, Bea De Leon, Maddie Madayag, Denden Lazaro, Kath Arado, and Dawn Macandili.
“Kung gusto makapag-medalya ng Pilipinas sa SEA Games, kailangan kasama ‘yung mga stars para lang talaga maging malakas ‘yung national team natin.”
Liao is not discrediting the efforts of the country’s young guns, even lauding them for the sacrifices they made for the country.
“As you can see, nandun ‘yung interest ng mga bata to be part of the pool.
“So, actually, these players, we will use them for the juniors teams because next year, there will be the Asian Juniors Championship. Then maybe, two to four players will be added to the senior team depende sa coaching staff,” he continued.
But he also understands where the pros are coming from. Many of them cited health concerns as their reason to not attend the tryouts.
“Siguro masama lang ‘yung timing dahil sa pandemic and some of the other teams are already in bubble training. ‘Yung protocol ng training is that if they go out, they will again have their health protocol. So if they come out, they will have another seven-day quarantine. Mapuputol ‘yung training nila with their club teams,” he said, referring to Creamline and Choco Mucho, who are in Clark for a month-long bubble in preparation for the 2021 PVL Open Conference.
“And at the same time, natakot sila na mahawa sila, pamilya nila, ‘yung mga kakampi nila. Kaya that’s why they decided na hindi sila mag-attend ng tryouts.”
At the same time, Liao also knows that the country needs to prepare for the SEA Games as soon as possible. He pointed out, “In the past, when there is a SEA Games, usually three months lang nabubuo kaya ‘yung results is masama. Ngayon siguro, they want a longer preparation, kaya inagahan nila ‘yung tryouts para makapag-training ng mas matagal.”
Still, Liao believes that the “stars” should receive some consideration for the country to be able to medal this November.
“If we want to win a medal in the SEA Games, we have to send the best.”