PH hosting of FIVB World Tour a 'momentous event' for beach volleyball
MANILA, Philippines – Beach Volleyball Republic (BVR) co-founder Charo Soriano felt elated as the Philippines wrapped up its historic hosting of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Manila Open.
"I'm very much humbled and very happy. It was very fulfilling to see the number of people watching and the amount of support that we are getting for beach volleyball – not only for the Philippine team but even for other athletes as well," said Soriano.
Playing in front of a jampacked Sands SM By The Bay, Japan’s Ayumi Kusano and Takemi Nishibori won their first World Tour women's gold medal following a quick 21-14, 21-18 conquest of Spain’s Maria Belen Carro and Paula Soria in the final.
Germany’s Max-Jonas Karpa and Milan Sievers also snatched their first FIVB World Tour men's gold, beating Russia's Petr Bakhnar and Taras Myskiv in come-from-behind fashion, 15-21, 23-21, 15-9.
Filipino fans witnessed 23 participating countries in the 4-day, one-star tournament.
"Hopefully this is the start. This can be the catalyst for what we really want, which is beach volleyball to be here in the Philippines. And it’s a sport for the masses talaga. A sport that people can enjoy and that everybody can learn to love as well," Soriano said.
Among the 4 Filipina pairs that competed, Sisi Rondina and Dzi Gervacio advanced farthest, making it to the quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, reigning BVR national champions Karen Quilario and Lot Catubag secured a round-of-12 spot and were just a point away from advancing to the top 8. Soriano considered both feats to be a breakthrough for the sport in the country.
The Filipinas defied tremendous odds, especially with Rondina and Gervacio beating much taller and experienced pairs from the United States and Canada. Quilario and Catubag, meanwhile, pushed reigning Asian U19 champions Thailand to 3 extended sets before losing in a valiant effort.
"It's a very momentous event, this one," said Soriano, who herself competed along with Bea Tan. "First, because a lot of the Philippine teams really didn't have programs prior to this event. We have BVR, we have regional tours, we have national championships."
"But in terms of having a proper national training pool program, it's still non-existent. But despite that, we were able to garner wins in the first-ever FIVB tournament that we are entering as national team."
The FIVB World Tour is a good gauge for those vying for slots in future beach volleyball tournaments, like the 2019 Southeast Asian Games the Philippines is hosting.
"We just need the proper support and of course, continuous programs in time for SEA Games next year. That's really the goal and that's why we wanted to push for an international tournament as well in preparation for next year's SEA Games," said Soriano.
With the way the Manila Open turned out, another one-star tournament in the coming years is not far-fetched.
"For sure, it won't be the last," said Soriano. "Being the first-time hosts and speaking as an organizer, we had setbacks as well, we had problems, but nothing that teamwork cannot fix." – Rappler.com