On Monday, the STI-West Negros University gym was jam-packed with Bacolodnon and Negrense volleyball fans watching the exhibition match between the ladies’ volleyball teams of Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) and Perlas-BanKo.
The cheers from the crowd were deafening from start to finish.
It was the first time seeing a gym filled with volleyball-loving spectators since the 2005 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, where men’s volleyball was hosted at the same venue.
It shows how hungry Bacolod City is for high-quality volleyball, especially since the annual University Games left for Dumaguete City a few years ago.
For lead organizer Carmela Arcolas-Gamboa, who used to play volleyball representing Negros Occidental at the Palarong Pambansa, the fan reactions showed how popular the sport was.
“Bacolod was crazy over the games and has a strong following in volleyball,” she said.
According to Gamboa, there were so many ticket requests made before tickets were even printed.
What is next after the exhibition game?
Bacolod City and Negros Occidental have produced several quality players, playing in both the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Likewise, there are also several local players seeing action in the Philippine Super Liga, the Philippine Volleyball League, and the national team.
Despite the success, we still do not have enough local tournaments and programs to develop volleyball, with the exception of the Negros Occidental Volleyball Association (NOVA), the JGM Corporation, and school-based competitions.
However, NOVA and JGM only host invitation-only summer leagues.
What about the local government offering a so-called sustainable sports program?
We must also understand sports programs are far different from holding seasonal tournaments.
Many of our local talents come from the barangays, many times, discovered through inter-purok or inter-barangay tournaments. There needs to be a stable foundation in order to nurture a good product; in addition, the limited education among coaches, trainers, and officiating officials are also a contributor to underperforming players.
We hope the recent event is a wake-up call to government officials. They should look into the proper conduct of sports programs and consider long-term programs./WDJ