PHILIPPINE volleyball officials hope the V-Belles' stint in the just-concluded Southeast Asian Zone qualifiers of the 2014 FIVB Women’s World Championships in Vietnam will be the start of a sound national team program and not just a one-off appearance.
Tony Boy Liao, team manager of the selection that won one game and lost two in Vietnam, said he hopes to convince Shakey's V-League organizer Sports Vision to continue the program to have a national women's team ready for other international competitions like this year’s Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar.
“Will ask Sports Vision to continue with the program,” Liao, who was with the squad in Vietnam, said in a text message. "Sayang kasi at nakabalik na tayo sa international women’s volley play.”
He added that the team is eyeing another stint in an invitational tournament, also in Vietnam, next month and the Asian Championships in Thailand in September.
The plan, however, is easier said than done since the mandate of forming a national team still belongs to the Philippine Volleyball Federation, whose current leadership has come under fire for its failure to send Philippine representatives to tournaments overseas.
It was the PVF's refusal to send a team to the Vietnam qualifiers that compelled the Asian Volleyball Confederation to ask the Philippine Olympic Committee to form a squad for the tournament, under threat of sanctions.
The Philippine Sports Commission, however, has refused to confer national team status on the V-Belles, saying they were only formed as per the instruction of the Asian volleyball body and not through a tryout staged by the PVF.
With no PSC recognition, team members cannot enjoy the benefits given to national athletes like monthly allowances and free board and lodging.
To keep the V-Belles together for future tournaments overseas, Liao's group may need to get recognition from a hostile PVF leadership.
The V-Belles, composed of standouts from the last V-League tournament, were formed just weeks into the qualifiers. They lost to seasoned teams from Vietnam and Indonesia and got their lone victory against Myanmar.
Still, Liao said he is proud of the V-Belles' performance.
“Nothing to be ashamed of. The girls gave their best with only a week's training. I have to be proud of them. They fought for the flag,” said Liao.