After looking lost just a few months ago, the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons have certainly found a new direction
Having parted ways with head coach Jerry Yee for undisclosed reasons right in the middle of the PVL Collegiate Conference, UP not only named a new head coach on Saturday afternoon, but promised a more organized effort towards success.
The Lady Maroons presented Kenyan Godfrey Okumu as their new mentor, and formalized a three-year partnership with the United Auctioneers Inc. as their main backer.
UAI president Dominic Sytin hopes that their return as the team’s main sponsor will help the Lady Maroons reach further unprecedented milestones.
“We really want the program to continue to get better. Hopefully, the program’s improvement continues,” said Sytin, a UP alum.
“We’re only here to spend the money. We trust the team that they’ll maximize all the opportunities that they get.”
UP automatically have one of the most decorated coaches in the UAAP. Okumu is a Level 3 FIVB Coach with stints as a part of the Kenyan National Team coaching staff and as head coach of several Japanese teams.
Okumu and UP first interacted when the Kenyan held coaching camps in the Philippines late last year. Okumu was a big part of getting the Lady Maroons to train in Japan as part of their buildup for UAAP Season 79.
“They’re not strangers to me.
“We know each other well. There’s a lot of chemistry between me and the team,” revealed the jolly head coach.
He also divulged that there had been several other coaches lined up for the job and admitted that he was relieved when he officially got the job.
“I was excited to coach the team. At first, I was hesitant to leave Japan because I had so much going on there and my daughter studies there as well,” he said.
“But I can say that I love the team and all the people who are helping us. It was big risk for us, but I hope it will lead to bigger returns.”
Okumu initially did not want to reveal specific goals, saying that he wants the Lady Maroons to adapt a more Japanese style of play. However, he went on to say that the goal is to win more games than last year.
“Everybody else wants to win. The only promise I can make is I will try to make sure that we reach twenty-five before the other teams. That’s the only promise I can make,” he quipped. “Top Four is our goal. If we can reach 25 before the other teams, what does that say? The other teams are going to be the same. It’s just a challenge that we are ready to take.
“We’ll try to deliver a respectable result. Hopefully, win more games than last year.”
With barely two months to prepare for UAAP Season 80, Okumu remains confident in the Lady Maroons’ talent.
“I have a talented team. It’s just going to be unlocking their talent. Two months is very short but I trust my players and expect good results.”
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