AFTER more than a decade of separation, Richard Gomez is reunited with his first love.
Nope, not with Dawn Zulueta but with volleyball.
Unknown to many including some of his own fans, the popular actor-sportsman became a serious volleyball player even before he took up other sports like rowing, basketball, shooting, golf, and fencing.
"Every since I was young, I really enjoyed playing volleyball. It was really part of my daily routine," Gomez told Spin.ph during the launch of the Superliga Grand Prix at Wack Wack Golf and Country Club on Saturday.
Naturally athletic, the former matinee idol said he started playing volleyball in grade school and became good enough to join competitions in his high school years at Arellano University.
He continued to compete seriously until his first year in college at Polytechnic University of the Philippines but drifted to other sports when he transferred to the University of the Philippines.
Almost 10 years since last playing volleyball competitively, Gomez is now back playing the six-a-side game as part of the PLDT MyDSL team in the inaugural men's tournament of the PSL Superliga.
"Binalikan ko lang ang first love ko, first love never dies, 'di ba?" he said with a grin.
Gomez also serves as the ambassador of the PSL, but looks at himself as more than just a ceremonial player who is out to boost the popularity of the league and the sport.
Like in every sport he has tried out, 'Goma' is here to compete.
Gomez, in fact, started playing in small volleyball tournaments and was one of those who encouraged the PSL, led by president Tats Suzara, to put up a men's league.
"Matagal, more than a decade na wala akong volleyball. So when I came back, I began playing for small clubs muna and then major club competitions hanggang umabot dito (sa PSL)," he said.
"Nag-usap kami nila Tats. 'Why don't we set up a men's volleyball tournament?' sabi niya, kaso maraming ayaw (kasi) di raw masyadong sikat. Sabi ko let's give it a try and I'm willing to help," he said.
"So noong sinabi niya (Suzara) na go na, naghanap ako ng team, nag-try out ako sa PLDT," Gomez shared. "Although I have my own team which is Systema, I opted to play for PLDT and then tinulungan ko na lang sila mag-form ng players tapos kumuha ng sponsors."
Ever competitive, Gomez said he won't allow himself to be just an ornament in the tournament, much less be a liability to his team when he's on the court.
He is out to win.
"I train with them (PLDT) everyday," Gomez said. "Ako naman personally, I don't want to enter the tournament na hindi rin ako prepared, I will not allow myself to be a mediocre player.
"I will train hard and play my best and hopefully we will get the championship."