MANILA, Philippines – After years of not having a stage to play in, club volleyball finally has a home.
Hoping to further develop the sport after its surge in popularity, volleyball is here to stay through the Philippine Super Liga.
Thriving in a basketball-mad nation of more than 90 million, volleyball had its fair share of hardships in promoting the sport throughout the country in all levels. One of the glaring issues is the lack of a professional league that will serve as a venue for players to continue playing the game after college.
Prior to the installment of the Superliga, the only ultimate stage where aspiring volleybelles compete is in the UAAP and the NCAA). Despite chances of playing as guest players in the semi-pro V-League, it was not a viable option for club volleyball.
The Super Liga is a semi-professional league similar to its collegiate counterpart, the V-League. The main difference between the two, however, is the format where the former will be a club competition compared to the collegiate format of the latter.
Internationally, a club league is composed of teams coming from different cities and normally belonging to a general sports club like that of Barcelona of Spain, Turkey’s Fenerbahce, Dinamo of Russia, and many more.
The Super Liga will be a tad bit different.
The maiden conference of the Super Liga will feature 6 teams: Cignal, PCSO Bingo Milyonaryo, Petron, Philippine Army, PLDT MyDSL and Cagayan Valley.
The league may look a bit bland at first glance (with only 6 teams in the competition) but the inclusion of the best volleyball players in the country, including past stars like Venus Bernal, Lou Anne Latigay, She Penano, Lizlee Gata and Romalyn Manzano, will make the league more interesting.
New blood will be infused in the league with recent collegiate graduates from the blockbuster UAAP and NCAA seasons the past year. These players include Maika Ortiz, Gretchen Ho, Pau Soriano, Sandra delos Santos, Fille Cainglet and Jen Reyes, among others.
Just when things are heating up, it becomes hotter as more players are eyed to complete the roster of the participating players. Players even from the collegiate level can join the Superliga, elevating the level of play of volleyball in the country in all levels.
Included are Leuseht Dawis of the University of the East, Sheilla Pineda of Adamson, and Rose Vargas of the Far Eastern University.
These players were either recruited or joined a tryout of the team to be qualified. In terms of eligibility, these players may return to their respective mother leagues, provided they have already completed two years of collegiate play.
Long term plans
The first Super Liga tournament will be invitational, with all teams tasked to field all-Filipino players. But the league is going to launch two conferences every years: a local and an Open. The local will be a short and exclusive conference for Filipino volleyball players and is a good avenue for collegiate players at least in their junior year to improve their game play.
The second conference will be open, which will allow foreigners such as many-time MVP Jang Bualee and Thai legend Patcharee Sangmuang to join teams. As of today, there are several foreigners who have committed to play in the PSL’s October conference.
Above all, the Super Liga aims to find the best volleyball players to represent the country in future international competitions. This is on top of the goal of establishing a strong volleyball ground in the Philippines.
The problem the past years is that most of the players stop playing after graduating from college due to the absence of a league to play in. Establishing the Super Liga, hopefully, addresses this issue.
All 6 teams will be playing thrice a week: Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays from 2 pm until 6 pm.
Solar Sports will be providing a delayed telecast from 5 pm to 9 pm of the first 2 games. The 3rd game will be aired the next day. – Rappler.com
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