Life’s a beach
The press conference was minutes away, but Bea Tan was still on her laptop, putting the finishing touches on their presentation. Outside the room, Dzi Gervacio and Charo Soriano were fixing a standee next to the registration table, while Gretchen Ho, Alexa Micek and Fille Cainglet-Cayetano were chatting with guests waiting for the start of the event’s launch.
For the followers of indoor volleyball in the country, the scene must have come as a surprise, considering that they’re used to seeing the six athletes spiking their way to victory on the court. This time, however, they are the ones working behind the scenes to stage Beach Volleyball Republic (BVR), their response to the lack of tournaments in the country.
Almost two years after it held its first event—the 2015 Christmas Open at SM Sands By the Bay at Mall of Asia—BVR has grown one of the most anticipated events of the summer for both fans and players of the fast-rising sport in the country.
“The initial mantra [for BVR] is it’s created by athletes for athletes,” says Soriano, who quit her corporate job to focus on BVR.
BVR has gone on to hold some 20 tour legs, including an international tournament last year and a Battle of Champions culminating event in May 2016. Tan, who played for Ateneo, shares that the idea of forming BVR started after a string of postponements hit a local event.
“We didn’t know how to organize, but we just thought we could do it,” says Tan. “The question before was who’s going to organize these tournaments. We found a niche. It’s untapped in the provinces. It’s a clean slate for us to build on and work on.”
At the time BVR was starting to take off, former Lady Eagle Gervacio focused on behind-the-scenes work, liaising with players for BVR, as well as presenting the event to possible sponsors.
“From our own experiences playing beach volleyball, there were just no year-round tournaments that offered at least good competition or good organization, aside from the Nestea event before,” Tan says. “We’ve gone through so many tournaments, we’ve seen how it’s done. We saw that we could actually set a standard.”
But as if organizing the event isn’t enough, the BVR founders also have to prepare themselves for battle on the sand.
“If we’re given a chance, personally I would rather train and get better,” Tan says. “But I can’t think of anyone else willing to invest time planning and organizing a tournament once or twice a month.”
But work doesn’t end after the matches. “After the game and you win, you can’t savor the win because you also have to fix the awarding ceremonies and think about the logistics,” says Gervacio.
Tan adds: “It always falls into place, though.”
Gervacio says they’ve taken a community approach in their efforts to grow BVR. “Everyone that we meet in our events are open and very willing to help,” she says.
“We’re open to ideas on how to improve BVR,” says Tan, noting that the circuit has provided “good teams in the provinces with opportunities to play in competitions.”
The BVR founders say their ultimate goal is to make the Philippines a hub for beach volleyball in Asia.
“We have so many beautiful beaches,” says Tan. “We can host Asian competitions and even a leg of the Swatch Series. This is realistic because it doesn’t require having a Filipino team as one of the tournament entries. We’re hoping to also help build a program for a team that will contend internationally.”
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