It's time we talk about Beach Volleyball Republic's epic rise
Paul Lintag on May 22, 2017 09:59 PM
BVR, the group founded by former Ateneo volleyball stars, is on a genuine mission to unleash an untapped potential in a sport that should come natural to us as citizens of a country surrounded by beaches. (FILE)
In the Summer of 2016, Beach Volleyball Republic finally landed in Boracay.
It was a big win for the group founded by former Ateneo volleyball stars, after all, with Boracay literally the most famous beach in the Philippines, it was the perfect place to showcase the budding orgazination focused on beach volleyball.
As part of the nationwide tour by BVR for 2016, the Boracay leg featured only one court and only one division, an all-women tournament.
Fast forward to the Summer of 2017 and BVR has started a new tour.
But in the year since Boracay, BVR has been bigger and better, with the latest leg alone in Currimao, Ilocos Norte over the weekend featuring not just one, not two, but three divisions.
There was a time when men only played in a King of the Rock style of tournament, now, there are enough players to support two separate divisions.
Also, BVR set up six courts in Currimao, with four of them being used for actual competition. The other two? Well, let's just say more than a handful of local kids were also having their own beach volleyball tournament over the course of two days there, heavy rain and all.
"We're very much happy with BVR and I think it's well manifested when it comes to the number of teams joining, it's growing already," co-founder Charo Soriano told ABS-CBN Sports on the BVR's incredible growth and widened reach.
"The number of fans, they're watching in each location. And the amount of support that we get from each local government unit. It's all these things that are very vital for the sustainability of the growth of beach volleyball in our country," she added.
For the longest time, only a number of regular players see action during BVR legs. And more often than not, half of the teams competing are made up of the actual founders that include Soriano, Bea Tan, and Dzi Gervacio.
However, over the past couple of tournaments, with an expanding pool of players, BVR can now afford to not play so many of its stakeholders. Soriano hasn't played in any of the legs of the current tour this year.
"Whe we started our first few legs, it was almost the regular players that are playing. At the same time, I think those players who play regularly grew and became more competitive, so right now with the influx of new teams, not only locally, we got teams as well from Malaysia as well as Hong Kong, I think our first few legs really trained us for this type of tournament," Soriano said.
"Right now, we can see that we're playing very well against international teams and I want for this to be able to continue in the future as well. So in each of our BVR on Tour legs, we would want to keep it open to international teams as well," she added.
After playing its 2016 national championship tournament, BVR went all in with an Invitational joust that included teams from Brazil, US, New Zealand, and a couple more pairs from Asia.
While BVR is yet to duplicate that feat, there has been a conscious effort to incorporate foreign squads on tour.
In this year's Manila leg, a team from Japan actually won in the women's division. In Ilocos Norte, two foreign squads, from Hong Kong and Malaysia, made the final of the men's open and men's collegiate division respectively with the Malaysians taking the win.
"We want top open up our players not only to the local scene but we wanted to slowly open up the players to international scene," Soriano said.
"That's why in each leg we try to invite 2-3 international teams. That will help our local talent a lot, especially in preparation for the SEA Games in 2019," she added.
While there's no official confirmation yet if beach volleyball will be included in the SEA Games lineup two years from now, the BVR is already doing its part in helping the Philippines send contender for gold.
"Henceforth, we'll be able to also give support to our beach volleyball players din," Soriano said.
"Admittedly, we have a lot of good ones in the coastal communities, if we can be able to support them and trust them, give them training in a span of like let's say a year, a year and a half, then I think we can be competitive in the Southeast Asian Games for beach volleyball," she added.
And the key to be competitive is to play competitive teams. As early as now, the BVR is working on an officially sanctioned tournament featuring foreign players going up against local talent.
"Hopefully will be able to make one din that's sanctioned by the international federation as well, that's what we're preparing for also. Hopefully by next year we'll be able to do it, right now we're not that big yet but hopefully we'll get there," Soriano said.
DON'T STOP, WON'T STOP
BVR's quest to grow the sport of beach volleyball will not stop just because there are a handful of new players and a couple more courts set up on every new location.
As with every other successful organization, consistency is key. With that in mind, BVR already has some exciting plans set for the rest of 2017 and beyond.
"For this year we're gonna have our national championship, we're [also] gonna have an international one, Asian Invitational. And we're gonna also have new places [to visit], namely Siargao and Surigao maybe late in the year," Soriano said.
"We'll make sure to bring the sport to different regions and different countries and to give local players also the chance to compete. Because right now, in each of the legs that we're going to, we give way to the locals, we give them a slot so that their sports director, their sports coordinator, can also assess where they are and then be able to help them," she added.
In the year since Boracay, BVR has been bigger and better.
The group founded by former Ateneo volleyball stars is on a genuine mission to unleash an untapped potential in a sport that should come natural to us as citizens of a country surrounded by beaches.
Something great is going on in BVR, and it's time we talked about it. There are no politics here, only beach volleyball games to be played under the sun.
Even under pouring rain.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8