Playing for their mom’s homeland | Inquirer Sports
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Playing for their mom’s homeland

There is a welcome surge of interest among Filipinos in sports other than basketball. We sincerely believe this is a good thing as it broadens our appreciation of the various athletic disciplines.
One gauge of the growing interest in other sports has been the almost immediate response on the social networks such as Twitter and Facebook to our posts and those of other sports media personnel on the results of matches other than basketball.
When we kept track of the performance of our rugby team, the “Volcanoes” in the HSBC Asian Rugby Sevens in Shanghai and were thrilled at their stunning upset of two-time champion and No. 1 seed South Korea, the joy of victory was embraced by several people who posted their congratulations and comments right away.
We ourselves, believe it or  not, played rugby as a young man in Sri Lanka and loved the game up to now. Through the years we have had to merely savor the excitement of watching New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, England, France, among others, because there was no Philippine rugby team to speak of.
That has now changed with the emergence of a gutsy band of Filipinos with foreign roots and homegrown talents who enjoy playing the game.
According to ABS-CBN reporter Dyan Castillejo, who has covered the “Volcanoes” with the same commitment that she has shown in covering the Azkals of football and pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao, they are a delightful band of mainly Fil-Aussies and Fil-Britons who are proud to represent the Philippines.
This sense of pride of playing for the homeland of their mothers, by and large, is in itself an inspiring story. It helps you understand why, just like the Azkals, Filipinos have quickly embraced them as our own, unlike some of the overseas-bred players in the PBA who seemed aloof because basketball was king.
Of course, it does help that the Azkals and the Volcanoes are clean-cut and on the whole blessed with good looks.
We are confident that sooner, rather than later, rugby matches featuring the Volcanoes will be a fairly regular feature on Philippine television—just as the Azkals have renewed the Filipinos’ interest in football.
In fact, the billboard of the Volcanoes that was removed because of what we believe was a hypocritical display of so-called morality was met with derision by many. Some of them wanted it restored after the Volcanoes beat Korea!
One other sport which regrettably doesn’t get the support it richly deserves is tennis.
We feel there is something intrinsically wrong  when our television networks telecast basketball tournaments but are not prepared to cover such major events as the Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Zone Group I tie between the Philippines and Chinese-Taipei on Sept. 16 to 18.
Not only will the result decide whether we remain in the elite group or not, it also should spur greater interest in a sport where we once produced such greats as Felicisimo Ampon, the brothers Rey and Federico Deyro, Johnny Jose, Eddie Cruz, Felix Barrientos, Roland So, Rod Rafael and Beeyong Sison, among others.
Carrying their rackets onto the court in a continuing commitment to the Philippines are Fil-Ams Cecil Mamiit and Treat Huey who, since they first represented our country years ago, have performed with both distinction and remarkable passion and won the hearts of Filipino fans.
Huey is today ranked No. 70 in the world in doubles, which is his specialty, while Mamiit’s effervescence remains infectious and his game still something to reckon with.
There could be no more enchanting venue for a cup tie as the picturesque Plantation Bay Spa and Resort in Lapu-Lapu City.
Unless one of our major TV networks responds to the call of the times, millions of Filipinos would have to be content with merely reading about the outcome, instead of sharing in the excitement of watching Mamiit, Huey, young Jason Patrombon and Ruben Gonzales race across the court battling for every single point, not for themselves alone but for our country.

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TAGS: Football, Philippines, Rugby, Sports, Tennis

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