THE Philippine Superliga (PSL), the country’s pioneering club volleyball league for both men and women, marks its second anniversary with more firsts when it introduces the PLDT Home Ultera-Philippine Superliga Beach Volleyball Challenge Cup 2015 and leads the formation of a Southeast Asian club tournament.
But its mission to reestablish the Philippines as among the regional centers of the sport does not end there, according to Superliga president Ramon ‘Tats' Suzara, whose presence in the organizing SportsCore, helped the Superliga gain quick recognition from the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) and the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) despite the Philippines’ earlier suspension of international recognition due to mismanagement of the old federation which handled the local volleyball scene.
Aside from the women’s club league, it was the Superliga which first organized a men’s club league in the country, also in 2014.
The corporate club beach volleyball tournament, Suzara said, will help establish the Philippines among the most active volleyball centers in Southeast Asia as his Score team sets its eyes on establishing a regional women's volleyball tournament together with club leagues from Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.
The Superliga was recognized and graced by the presence of top international volleyball officials, including Mr. Shanrit Wongprasert, the AVC executive vice president who attended the inaugural PSL All-Filipino tournament on July 7, 2013; and Mr. Mohammed Hassan, the FIVB Referees Commission president who graced the start of the import-laced PSL Grand Prix last year.
Wongprasert is at the forefront of this endeavor and is set to fly to Manila together with club league officials of Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia in September to sign the agreement and discuss the mechanics of the regional tourney.
The regional tournament has yet to come up with an official name, but Suzara guaranteed that it will be patterned after the Asean Basketball League (ABL) where the Philippines used to have a team.
"As the Philippine Superliga reaches its second year, it is only fitting that we increase the level of competition of volleyball in the country," Suzara, a member of the AVC executive council, said.
"This is an important milestone for Philippine volleyball. Not only do we get the foreign exposure we badly need, but we also improve our relationship with our Southeast Asian neighbors that makes the transfer of technology much easier for our officials, coaches and players. I'm sure this endeavor will benefit everyone - even the volleyball-loving Filipinos."
Since its formation in 2013, the PSL had conducted a lot of innovations which other volleyball leagues try to emulate.
Aside from being the pioneer in organizing the men's division, the PSL was also the first to bring in powerful and pretty reinforcements from Russia, United States, Brazil and China as well as spearhead the printing of an official newspaper —the PSL Trending — managed by the Press Corps.
The PSL also conducted coaches and players' television workshop, officiating workshop, Volleyball Information System workshop and medical treatment workshop. Soon, media delegates from AVC will arrive to conduct seminar for print and online reporters and broadcasters covering the league.
The PSL was also the first to use the "skorts," uniforms pattered from teams playing in top European volleyball circuits.
Next week, the PSL will stage its first PSL Beach Volleyball Challenge Cup 2015 at the Sands inside SM By the Bay. The month-long tournament will precede the PSL Champions Cup and the highly-anticipated PSL Grand Prix, where reinforcements from volleyball superpowers like Cuba, Brazil and Italy are set to arrive.
"We are on a mission," Suzara said. "We are just in our infancy but we are proud to say that we have already accomplished so many things. We are looking forward to more fruitful years ahead and further improvement of volleyball in the country."