Francis Vicente and Sammy Acaylar are said to be inching closer towards bagging the coaching role of the national team in the 29th Southeast Asian Games.
A source privy to the development said the Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. (LVPI) invited both Vicente and Acaylar to an urgent meeting on Wednesday before the first match of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) women’s volleyball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
The insider added that LVPI acting president Peter Cayco made the invitation after carefully studying the credentials and qualifications of all the 23 mentors available for the prestigious position.
The source said the mere fact that Vicente and Acaylar were invited only means that they are moving closer towards the much-coveted appointment.
Aside from Acaylar and Vicente, only Oliver Almadro of Ateneo has an experience in handling the national team when he served as head coach for the men’s side in the 28th Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.
But his coaching resume in the international competition is not as thick as the seasoned Acaylar, who was part of the coaching staff of Russian Stav Lugailo when the country last won the gold medal in the Singapore SEA Games in 1993, or Vicente, who handled PLDT squad in the AVC Asian Men’s Club Championship in 2014 and the under-19 team in a couple of international battles last year.
The source said Vicente and Acaylar’s experience could be the game-changer.
In a phone conversation, Acaylar admitted to have received an invitation from LVPI on Wednesday, but refused to speculate on the possible outcome of the meeting.
He said he’s leaving his fate to the federation and he will accept the decision of Cayco and other ranking volleyball executives.
Acaylar said he would be ready if and when Cayco issues him the marching order.
In fact, his program is already in place as early as six month ago and could start “as soon as possible.” He also relinquished his position with Cignal in the Philippine Superliga (PSL) and is transitioning to a non-active role at Perpetual Help Dalta System after being appointed as Athletic Director recently.
He said he would launch massive tryouts in Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao to create a pool of 16 players composed of the tallest – and most committed – young players in the country.
The team would be given maximum international exposure and would set up training camps in powerhouse countries like Japan, South Korea and China.
“I want to handle the national team to create a legacy as a coach who gave pride and honor to the country in international tournament.”
Vicente, for his part, also said his commitment to the national team remains rock-solid.
He said if and when the LVPI picks him to call the shots for the national team, he is very much willing to go on leave and appoint either Mayie Prochina and Zenaida Chavez as head coach of Generika in the PSL Invitational and All-Filipino Conferences.
But he would still be around as team consultant.
“Like coach Sammy, I have also plotted a program on how to run the national team. It is something I would divulge to Mr. Cayco and other LVPI officials if ever I would be called for an interview.”
The LVPI is tipped to identify the head coach of both the men’s and women’s national team before the end of this week. After that, a nationwide tryout is expected to be held, prompting the head coach to kick off the training camp as early as the first week of February.
Vicente said LVPI’s calendar doesn’t directly clash with his coaching job at University of the East in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP).
“The UAAP would be done around the first or second week of April. After the UAAP, I will be very much available and we can shift the national training program to a higher gear with foreign exposures and international tournaments.”
“The important thing is that I am very much committed and I am willing to go the extra mile for a chance to coach the national team.”