De Brito sees bright future for women’s program, one anchored on rising stars
No longer just an outsider looking in, Philippine coach Jorge Edson Souza de Brito swears that he sees an even brighter future for the highly popular national women’s team.
Brought here to overhaul Team Philippines’ developmental program, the Brazilian top volleyball coach made special mentions of young guns who will form the backbone of the country’s planned resurgence in the sport.
Newbies like Ivy Lacsina, Jennifer Nierva, Bernadette Pepito, Imee Hernandez, Eya Laure, Kamille Cal, Faith Nisperos and Alyssa Solomon all got their baptism of fire in the recent Asian Clubs Championships in Thailand.
“I’m so happy about all of the young players. They had a good experience there,” he said. “It was [a] first for most of them. I think it was a big surprise for everyone how they played there, but we trusted them since from the beginning.”
The young players, culled from different schools, had a longer layoff—compared to the veterans in the team—because most of them weren’t able to join the biosecure Premier Volleyball League held three months ago.
“After a long time without playing, most of them, they played very well, considering our time preparation and everything in this special year,” de Brito added.
For De Brito, the national team already got enough tools for its rebuild. “I want to personally thank their coaches for doing a good job. I hope to meet them in the future,” he said.
Despite the flak coming from the overactive social media fans, De Brito said the country is staying the course toward a taller, younger national team (NT) that can compete with the best in the world.
He’s got two years to make good on his goals; that’s how long his contract with the national federation runs. The decorated Brazilian was appointed by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) as a mentor for the Philippines through its national teams development program. As such, his salary is subsidized by the FIVB.
That may prove too short a time to turn a dormant program around, but De Brito, at the very least, has the tools he needs to make it work.
“I’m very proud of all of [the young talents],” he said. “They showed how to play even if you’re not in your best condition. They played hard as they can for the country. I’m blessed because I could see 24 players in all. It was a grateful surprise to see them play and stay together then.”
The 24-strong national pool was broken into two clubs during the Thailand meet. Both squads ended in the last two spots, combining for only a single victory—which came when the two teams faced each other. But how they fared against well-established clubs teams in the region provided De Brito a glimpse of what they can do in the future.
“Right now we are evaluating, we don’t have time to waste. This time we are on a planning stage. Looking forward to give this NT the best we can,” said the Olympic gold winner.
With the Southeast Asian Games and the Asian Games happening next year, De Brito said the Philippine team has more opportunities to test, and prove, its mettle.
But for now, he said, “we will keep on growing. We are still studying when, how and where we will do our next step.”
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