Karch Kiraly knows that the Filipinos have what it takes to become a powerhouse in the international stage.
The 56-year old University of California-Los Angeles alum is in town to serve as guest of honor in the opening ceremonies of the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix on Saturday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
He is also here to conduct coaching clinic and connect with Filipino fans, who admire the quality of plays of American players in the league like Hillary Hurley and Lindsay Stalzer of Petron and Alexis Matthews of Cignal.
But Kiraly is not an ordinary coach.
He is the head coach of the United States women’s volleyball team, the squad that clinched the bronze medal next to China and Serbia in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics last year.
He also has a pair of two Olympic gold medals from indoor volleyball and one from beach volleyball hanging around his neck, making him one of the only four coaches to win an Olympic medal both as a player and as a coach.
He was also awarded as FIVB Best Player in the World in 1986 and 1988 as well as FIVB Best Player of the 20th Century, enough to be inducted into the FIVB Hall of Fame in 2001 and into the American Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2005.
Armed with those glowing credentials, Kiraly is the best person to declare that the Filipinos can soon burst into the global arena.
‘Just like Japan, Thailand’
Kiraly knows that the Filipinos are not tall and powerful as the Americans and Europeans.
But he also knows that they have the heart, the willingness, and the passion to become successful.
“I don’t think you have to be the tallest, the highest jumpers, the most powerful to be a great volleyball team.”
“Those teams (Japan and Thailand) don’t have particularly tall players, but they have this great fighting spirit and really good floor skills and the ability to put the ball where they exactly need to go so they can overcome a lot.”
“You don’t have to be the world’s tallest players top have the best volleyball team.”
One glaring example of the Filipinos’ love of volleyball was when they hosted the FIVB Women’s Club Championship, a prestigious tourney where the world’s best club players slug it out for pride and glory.
Kiraly said news reached him that the Filipinos’ support to the home team – PSL Manila – was very solid.
The squad was composed of seven foreign players and seven local stars in Jaja Santiago, Rachel Anne Daquis, Jen Reyes, Frances Molina, Mika Reyes, Jovelyn Gonzaga and Kim Fajardo, but the reception of the crowd was tremendous as it celebrates every single point, every single defensive stuff against the best players on the planet.
“I heard the atmosphere was electric.”
“I’m excited to be here because you hosted the World Club Championship last year and we had a number of American players on those teams. They really had a great time here.”
He said the fact that the Filipinos successfully rolled out the red carpet for all the world’s best players like Tatiana Kosheleva, Zhu Ting, Kim Hill, Tijana Boskovic speaks a lot to their passion and dedication to the sport.
It’s something that is far bigger than height, skills or power.
It’s something that can carry them all the way to the world stage.
Indeed, the future looks bright.