AS EXPECTED, the first sports-related activity of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia is the revival of the Unity Cup, a province-wide volleyball tournament that was discontinued when then governor Hilario Davide III took over.
The Unity Cup comes after a dismal performance by Cebu Province in the Batang Pinoy, which shows where the Garcia administration’s priority lies when it comes to sports. Participation in national meets may be a thing of the past in lieu of province-level events.
Eight years apart, this year’s version of the Governor’s Cup drew 35 local government units and given the short span to prepare teams, I think that’s an impressive number. I’m sure, after the initial offering, the field will increase next year.
This year’s version also will have to make do without the moth-balled Cebu International Convention Center, which hosted the finals during Governor Garcia’s term. I hope organizers this year will look into having a home-and-away format in the finals as it proved to be a crowd-draw last year.
The Unity Cup also comes after last season’s highly successful Governor’s Cup for basketball and volleyball and I hope the basketball tournament will also be revived. The previous editions drew a jam-packed crowd as it utilized the home and away format, something that is rarely done in any Governor’s or Mayor’s Cup that are usually organized.
Some of our volleyball players have gone on to play in the pro leagues in Manila and I’m hopeful some diamonds in the rough will be discovered in the tournament. No thanks to the Manila-centric national sports association for the sport, volleyball players outside of Manila have largely been left on their own.
A province-wide tournament will give those who are not lucky to be part of college teams or are too old for school-based tournaments a chance to play again.
The previous NSA for volleyball, the Philippine Volleyball Federation, was supportive of the Gov’s Cup, while the one that replaced it, the Samahang Volleyball ng Pilipinas (SVP), hasn’t extended its presence outside of the lucrative leagues in Manila.
I think the Cebu Volleyball Association is again involved with this and I’m glad that the group is being revived. That will show the Manila-centric SVP, a remnant of Peping Cojuangco’s power play a few years ago, that we don’t need them.
I’’m not sure if Governor Garcia has appointed officials to man the Cebu Provincial Sports Commission (CPSC) yet, but I hope she does, soon.
The CPSC was a big help to the Cebu Province in the regional and national DepEd meets, making the delegation the envy of some, and I hope such practice will continue under her term.