Abdilla: A new kind of hero in Tawi-Tawi City
ABS-CBN Sports on Jun 12, 2017 06:07 PM
Ran-Ran Abdilla with firstborn and only child Summer, his source of strength and inspiration, he says, during his long recovery from a torn leg muscle that kept him out of volleyball for two years.
A heart-felt smile lights up Alnakran ‘Ran-Ran’ Abdilla’s handsome face when told that where he came from – Bongao, Tawi-Tawi City in strife-torn Mindanao – folk revere him as a hero.
The modest airman 2nd class from the Philippine Air Force and BS Criminology graduate from De La Salle University-Dasmarinas won’t volunteer the information, ever, but the slew of highly-talented Muslims from his town of birth who arrived and keep arriving in Manila to follow in his footsteps are only willing to attest to that.
Not only are they exceptionally talented in volleyball like him, bright, young men who are wondrous high leapers and powerful spikers; they also generally take up what he took up in university: criminology.
Marisa Ismail, mother of Fauzi Ismail of the National University Bulldogs, says her son greatly idolizes Abdilla in fluent Filipino:
“Ismail played football in elementary, but in high school he shifted to volleyball because he told me he wanted to be like Ran-Ran. He (Abdilla) at the time was very popular in Tawi-Tawi and he still is until now. He is a great role model for the youths in our city.”
Ismail is now playing side by side with his hero, two key players of the Air Force Jet Spikers pitted against the Cignal Tv HD Spikers in the Premier Volleyball League men’s finals.
The PVL is an expanded version of the highly successful V League under the same organizer, Sports Vision, with Asics as official league partner, and Mikasa as official game ball.
Wincing in great pain, Ran-Ran Abdilla is comforted here by teammate Jessie Lopez after a terribly bad fall during a game in the now-defunct Spikers’ Turf, another event by Sports Vision, in 2015.
It looked like the end of Abdilla’s athletic career when, playing only his third game on May 26, 2015 in the opening season of Spikers’ Turf, he crumpled on to the floor howling in pain after executing a spike.
Mercifully, it was not an ACL injury as many had feared. A muscle tear only, Abdilla explains, serious enough to lay him off for a long time. What boggles the mind, though, is why he had to wait for eight months or so before he submitted himself to surgery. Recovery took him another six months. He didn’t play for two years, he says.
Indisposed for that long, he says hunger, regrets, and even envy gnawed at his heart as he helplessly watched the Jet Spikers capture two more AFP Olympics titles and sweep the Open and Reinforced Conference championships of Spikers’ Turf in 2016, its final year.
“I will always feel bad,” says Abdilla, “if I so much as miss a game. To be unable to play for two years is sure to make me crazy as I’m used to playing all my life as a starter for any team I’m on.”
Oh, Abdilla felt crazy but a different kind of crazy. He went completely gaga over his only child by the name of Summer, who was born a few days before he injured himself. All his waking hours after his work and during the long layoff off the court he devoted to fathering his firstborn.
Every day of the long rainy days in his sporting career, Summer, says Abdilla, a father’s pride glinting in his eyes, “had brought me and my wife untold joy. I watched her grow, heard her first word, saw her take her first step. I became more determined to come back to volleyball so she could watch me play like the rest of the Air Force children.”
Summer, now a healthy, hyperactive two-year-old, and his mom were around when Abdilla returned to the court after a long absence, scoring 18 points in the Jet Spikers’ opening game in the new Premier Volleyball League against the Sta. Elena Wrecking Balls.
In his comeback year Abdilla made it anew to the national team going to the upcoming Southeast Asia Games, another feat that will surely make Tawi-Tawi City or the whole of Mindanao proud again.