Photos: Kitkat Matutina & APL
Season 80 is all part of the learning curve.
Despite the UPWVT’s unfavorable team standing of seventh in the league table (as of this writing, 3-7), UPWVT sponsor, Mr. Dominic Sytin of United Auctioneers Inc. is not upset.
“Our coach (Godfrey Okumu) arrived in January and that is kind of late. We lost our entire coaching staff right before the start of the tournament. And although we got two very capable assistants, there wasn’t enough time for preparation. Our coach, as well, needed to learn how Filipinos think, behave, and play. He needed to adjust to the climate and culture. So, there is a period of adjustment on everyone’s part. The players included.”
Dominic doesn’t believe in overnight success. If he’s learned anything from his years at the University of the Philippines, it is that success is all about working hard, being patient, and investing in top resources. Now, he’s adopting the same approach to the UPWVT.
“Years ago, I was asked to help three of the Lady Fighting Maroons,” shared Sytin during a team dinner at Hai Kang Seafood restaurant along Wilson Street in San Juan. “I declined the first three times I was asked. I figured that I am not going to make a difference by helping just three players so why not (help) the whole team?”
Now in his second year of sponsoring the Lady Fighting Maroons, Sytin, who admits he isn’t a volleyball person, has become a convert and has learned to take the team’s game results in stride. “I cannot say I am a volleyball person,” he says with a smile. “but over the past few years? I am one now. A fan to be certain. A supporter in a sponsor’s role.”
Over dinner, the coaches and Dominic discussed the volleyball camp they were holding the day after the second-round loss to UST. “Well, just like business, volleyball never stops,” said the team sponsor. “A very good friend of Coach Okumu, Coach Sato, is in town to help assess and train all the athletes. And believe it or not, Coach Sato will fly out back to Japan the day after the camp. It is his way of showing support not only for coach but our program.”
“I am very optimistic that in the next few years we will contend for the championship. We already have a very good coach who is putting together a system and program. But every good program needs enough tools and resources to get the job done. There is a bumper crop of Grade 12 graduates from all around the Philippines. So we will provide very good players for the school; players who are coachable and have a desire to win not only for the team but also the school.”
Lest you think that team management has given up on this challenging season, it is farthest from the truth. “At this point, we are trying to motivate our players to give it their best. We are fighting for that slim chance to make it. But whether that happens or not, it is also to finish strong and for the future.”
Dominic also discussed the symbiotic relationship between his PSL club, Foton, and UP.
“Players who play for the school, play for honor. In a professional team, players come and go. They switch clubs. It is understandable since it is now a profession. I think owning Foton right now is complementary. Our college players will look forward to play for a club team. They are one foot inside the door. If Foton can provide a future for them, why not? In school, they develop discipline and character that will help them in a pro career. So it’s a win-win situation.”
One step back, two steps forward?