The year 2016 is turning to be another banner year for the Philippine Superliga (PSL) as it hosts a pair of major international tournaments aimed at putting the Philippines back on the international volleyball map.
Aside from staging the Invitational Conference, beach volleyball, All-Filipino Conference and season-ending Grand Prix, the PSL will also roll out the red carpet for participants in the AVC Asian Women's Club Championship from September 3 to 11 followed by the highly-anticipated FIVB World Women's Club Championship from October 18 to 23.
Preparations are already in full swing for PSL's hosting of both tourneys as it already staged the drawing of lots for the Asian joust two weeks ago while FIVB executive committee member Stav Jacobi and PSL president Ramon "Tats" Suzara have formally signed the memorandum of agreement for the world tourney last week.
Reigning PSL Grand Prix champion Foton will be donning the national colors in the AVC tourney while the PSL and FIVB will assemble a team of six local players and six quality imports to fly the flag in the highly-competitive FIVB Women's Club battle.
Suzara said bringing both tournaments to Manila is the PSL's contribution to the development of Philippine volleyball.
"It is the PSL's mission to improve the quality of the sport here in the country," said Suzara, also the marketing and development committee chairman of the AVC and member of the FIVB.
"That's why we're doing everything to turn this hosting into reality. We want to give our players the exposure they need and treat local fans to world-class volleyball action. Hosting the AVC and FIVB tournaments is our contribution to the improvement and development of Philippine volleyball."
Aside from hosting the events, the PSL is also making sure that the home teams will not go down without putting up a fight.
Foton is said to be forming the best team possible with prolific American imports Ariel Usher and Lindsay Stalzer at the attack zone.
The Toplander will also employ the services of other PSL stars like Aby Marano of F2 Logistics, Jen Reyes and Aiza Pontillas of Petron, and Jovelyn Gonzaga, Tina Salak, Honey Royse Tubino and Rachel Anne Daquis of RC Cola-Army to assemble a powerful lineup capable of giving other Asian teams a scare.
Suzara reiterated that they will form a team of six local players and six imports for the world meet to match the firepower of Rexona Ades Rio de Janeiro of Brazil, Bangkok Glass of Thailand, Pomi Casalmaggiore of Italy and four more wildcard teams.
Tapping a foreign coach is also seriously being considered to give local coaches a good idea on how to run a quality team.
"We're leaving no stone unturned," Suzara said. "This will be our first hosting of a world volleyball tournament after 16 years and the first time to have a home team. We want to make sure that we will not be battered on our home court while giving our local players, coaches and even fans a ringside view of how things are being done in the international level."
The country's last taste of hosting a high-caliber tournament was the 2000 FIVB World Grand Prix. Although the Philippines was not given a slot, world volleyball sensations Leila Barros of Brazil and Maurizia Cacciatori and Francesca Piccinini of Italy captivated the hearts of the Filipinos with their skills, power and, of course, beauty.
"Like in the 2000 FIVB World Grand Prix, we want our hosting this year to be an experience of a lifetime, something which Filipino fans will never forget," Suzara said.