AFTER seeing the Philippine spikers go up against some of the best Under-23 teams in Asia, national coach Roger Gorayeb believes it will take at least eight years for the Philippines to catch up with the best in the region.
And he's only talking about the Southeast Asian region.
Filipina spikers have had their moments in the Philippines' return to international competition in over a decade, with Alyssa Valdez and Co. beating Kazakhstan in the preliminaries and winning a set against Chinese Taipei in the second round of the Asian Under-23 Women's Volleyball Championship.
But before fans get carried away, Gorayeb warned that the Philippines is still way behind its rivals in the Philippines, primarily Thailand and Vietnam.
“For me, eight years or more than that,” said Gorayeb when asked how long the Philippine team can catch up with its regional rivals amid a spike in the popularity of the sport in the country. “Sa Southeast Asia pa lang, katulad ng Thailand, they are very, very far from us. Vietnam is far from us."
Gorayeb said the Philippines' long absence from the international scene - as well as a lack of a program for the national team in the midst of a long leadership vacuum - widened the gap between it and other countries.
“Masama man isipin, hindi naman namin kasalanan lahat ‘yun. We should have been participating (internationally) a long time ago. We should have a set of players that are constantly practicing and going abroad, participating in international competition to be at par with the best."
For one, Gorayeb said millions are being spent by Thailand for their volleyball program alone. The result? Thailand has been a regular in the FIVB Grand Prix where the best teams in the world are playing.
“Naisip ba natin na ang Thailand will be participating in the Grand Prix? They can beat China, Japan, and Korea. Malayong malayo na talaga tayo sa kanila,” said Gorayeb.
The Under-23 program, Gorayeb said, is a good take-off point for a revival of the national team program.
And there should be continuity, he added.
“We are starting with these kids. These girls we are training, sana mag-tuluy-tuloy. Sana sila pa rin dahil minsan, sali ngayon, ibang team, bagong coach, bagong team. Coach na lang ang palitan, huwag na ‘yung player kasi everytime there is a new coach, there are new players. There is no continuity,” said Gorayeb.