So many things have been said, so many articles have been written about RC Cola-Army’s Jovelyn Gonzaga and her burning desire to make the country proud in major international tournaments.
She battled Southeast Asia’s sand warriors in the beach volleyball tournament of the 2011 Southeast Asian Games in Palembang. She also parried the cold winds and gloomy weather of Kazan, Russia when she competed in the Univesiade in 2012. Of course, who ever would forget her heroics when Team Philippines campaigned in the AVC Asian Seniors Women’s Championship in Bangkok in 2013?
But last year, her resolve was tested.
With the Philippine Volleyball Federation (PVF) and Larong Volleyball ng Pilipinas, Inc. (LVPI) locked in a bitter dispute over legitimacy, Gonzaga boldly took the cudgels and skippered the LVPI-assembled squad to the 28th SEA Games in Singapore.
Never mind if it was unpopular.
Never mind if it created a stir.
The important thing is that she did it not for herself, not for her friends, not for her family.
She did it for flag and country.
Bigger task ahead
But Gonzaga’s international experiences are no match to the colossal task ahead.
The 24-year old former Central Philippine University star has been invited to try her luck in the team that would compete in the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship here in Manila from Oct. 18 to 23 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
She was among the handful of Philippine Superliga (PSL) superstars who will be given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete against the best players from around the world. All the volleyball goddesses will descend from heaven and in one magical week, they will play with all mere mortals who are raring to narrate this experience to their next generation.
Five international clubs have already confirmed: Rexona Ades of Brazil, Bangkok Glass of Thailand, Pomi Casalmaggiore of Italy, Valero Zurich of Switzerland and Ecsacibasi VitrA Istandbul of Turkey. Two more wildcard slots still are at stake but, nevertheless, the picture of this ultra-tough competition is already complete.
The Philippines – which will be powered by seven imports – will be mere minnow in this shiver of sharks. And the likes of Gonzaga and other players invited to the tryouts like Honey Royse Tubino, Tina Salak and Rachel Anne Daquis are tipped to get overwhelmed by this fantastic volleyball spectacle.
“That’s why I’m planning to give everything I can just to get into the team. I will do my best, but I will not expect so I won’t get disappointed if ever I’m not selected.”
All about pride
Gonzaga said her pride as an enlisted Army personnel and her burning desire to serve her country are keeping her dream afloat.
Wherever I go, wherever I play, I am always associated with Army. That’s why I want to make the organization proud.”
Aside from Gonzaga, Tubino, Salak and Daquis, other players invited are Jeanette Panaga, Cherry Mae Vivas, Janine Navarro and Djanel Cheng of Cignal; Gen Casugod, Rubie de Leon, Faith Arado and Ria Meneses of Generika; Pau Soriano and Janette Serafica of Standard Insurance-Navy; Kim Fajardo, Dawn Macandili, Mary Joy Baron, Kim Dy and Mika Reyes of F2 Logistics; Lourdes Clemente and Cindy Imbo of Amy’s; Maika Ortiz, Jaja Santiago and Rhea Dimaculangan of Foton; and Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Frances Molina and Jen Reyes of Petron.
“I’m sure they will do their best to pick the very best among local players. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We have to put our best foot forward.”
Yes, there’s a lot of chances; there’s a glittery opportunity.
But for now, all Gonzaga could do is to work hard, play her best and wait for somebody to knock on her door to offer her the golden ticket to the World.