BACOLOD CITY -- Differently-abled athletes from Negros Occidental banner the first-ever national men’s sitting volleyball team who will compete in the 10th ASEAN Para Games hosted by the Philippines this coming March.
A total of 14 out of 15 players are Negrenses, including seven from Silay City, two each from Cadiz City, Bago City, and Kabankalan City, and one from Sagay City. One is from Surigao.
The Silaynon players led by team captain Eric Molavin, together with Mayor Mark Golez, met with benefactor, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, who hails from Cadiz City, here during the Christmas holidays.
On Thursday, the players are still on a holiday break but are preparing to leave for Manila on January 5 to start training for the regional games.
“With our unity as a team, I believe we will be able to bring pride and glory for our country. We continue to train. It’s also an advantage that the Philippines is hosting the games,” the 46-year-old Molavin said.
He acknowledged though that they can be considered as “newbies” since their competitors from other Southeast Asian countries are more experienced and have more exposure.
Among Molavin’s teammates who work with him at the Silay City Persons with Disability Affairs Office City are Nicolas Lorico, 55; Glen Rodrigazo, 46; and Christopher Morales, 44.
Sitting volleyball, most widely known form of paravolley, has rules based on the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) regulations for able-bodied volleyball, with a few minor modifications.
Teams also compete with six players on the court at a time, and a portion of the athlete’s torso must be in contact with the ground at all times.
According to the World Para Volley, sitting volleyball is played by more than 10,000 athletes, in more than 75 countries worldwide.
Guanzon, who is providing practice uniforms for the team, said it is a pride of Negros that the national sitting volleyball players are from the province.
She added the Comelec also has a strong program for persons with disabilities (PWDs) that provides them easier access when voting.
Guanzon said she sees the sitting volleyball players become the poll body’s ambassadors for the PWDs’ welfare.
Golez said the city government would continue to support the sitting volleyball players from Silay, whom he is rooting to lead the campaign for no less than a gold medal for the Philippines.
The ASEAN Para Games, a twin event of the Southeast Asian Games that caters to athletes with disabilities, has been initially scheduled for January 18-25.
However, “due to funding constraints and logistical considerations”, it has been proposed to be held on March 20 to 28 instead. (PNA)