Fajardo calls for unity

Seasoned playmaker Kim Fajardo of De La Salle University calls for unity for Philippine volleyball amid the controversial announcement of the 25-woman national pool that would compete in two major international tournaments this August.

If there’s somebody who can call for a ceasefire, it’s definitely Fajardo.

Although still tender at 23, Fajardo was part of the renaissance of Philippine volleyball and campaigned in the prestigious FIVB Women’s Club World Championship together with Rachel Anne Daquis, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Mika Reyes, Jaja Santiago, Frances Molina and Jen Reyes.

She was also part of the national youth team that competed in the 7th Asian Youth Girls Volleyball Championship that the country hosted in 2008 where she teamed up with future stars Alyssa Valdez, Denden Lazaro and Dindin Manabat.

Such mini-reunion thrills Fajardo.

“Ang sarap kasi bukod sa magsama-sama ulit kami, ayun nga makakapagdala ulit ako ng flag sa jersey.”

Fajardo stated that donning the national colors in an Olympic-like tourney is such an honor to every athlete.

“Malaking bagay ‘yun (to wear national team jersey) kasi siyempre hindi lang company, hindi lang school ang niri-represent mo, sama-sama na, buong Pilipinas.”

With that, she hopes to get the best support from the growing volleyball community.

“So, blessed din siguro na isa ako sa napili. Pero yun nga, sana talaga matuloy at suportahan. Magka-isa ba. ‘Yun ang wish ng bawat Filipino athlete, magka-isa.”

Baliton’s defense

Fajardo reiterated that suiting up for the national team is every athlete’s ultimate dream.

If ever the two-time UAAP best setter makes the cut for the final 12, it will be her first-ever stint in the Southeast Asian Games, which adds up to her excitement.

“Siyempre unang-una thankful ako. Sobrang saya kasi first time ko mag-represent ng Philippines sa SEA Games. So, sana dire-diretso, sana suportahan, maging isang tayo ngayon”

“Lahat ng athlete, ito yung gusto.”

She also addressed the grueling situation of University of the East’s converted playmaker Roselle Baliton, who made it to the pool but has been blasted by a lot of people in social media thinking that she bumped Ateneo star Jia Morado off the position.

Fajardo said Baliton deserves to be given a chance to prove herself.

“Siguro bigyan naman natin ng chance ‘yung bata na ipakita kung ano ang meron sa kanya ngayon. ‘Wag yung puro pamba-bash kasi isa yan sa magiging thinking na bata, mada-down siya eh.”

“Parang sasabihin niya na ganoon ba ako ka-lampa na hindi ako marunong mag-set? So, wala akong chance na ipakita kung anong meron sa sarili ko?”

Fajardo emphasized that Baliton shouldn’t be dragged down since she’s still new and raw as playmaker.

The 6-foot-1 Baliton worked hard to earn such slot in the pool and everybody should welcome and support her with open arms.

“Bigyan natin ng chance. Gusto niya ipakita eh. Siya naman ang nag-tryout doon. Malay ba natin kung ano ang ginawa niya doon. Huwag tayong maging harang sa kanya.”

Fajardo completely understands Baliton’s case.

She knows that being one of the best is not an overnight process. In fact, she had been in this situation before she blossomed into one of the country’s most important playmakers through the guidance of national coach Francis Vicente.

“Actually dati, RP Youth naman yun, nag-set din ako na kaka-convert lang sa akin, wala din akong alam. Kaka-convert lang, wala pang isang taon ‘yun, naglalaro na ako ng international na liga, double-double (violation) pa ako noon.”

Baliton is not alone for this battle.

National pool members have her back and would fight for her no matter what.

Hopefully, fans would also do the same – all for the love of volleyball.