Kim Fajardo on the future of Philippine volleyball

Kim Fajardo On The Future of Philippine Volleyball

As someone who has been in the game for years, Kim Fajardo weighs in on what the future of Philippine volleyball might hold.

Philippine volleyball has come a long way in the last decade. When Kim Fajardo was still a student-athlete playing for the De La Salle University Lady Spikers from 2013 to 2017, for instance, she didn’t even think she could turn her passion for volleyball into a full-fledged career.

Fast forward to today, and she has become one of the star players of the highly successful Premier Volleyball League (PVL). And, as a veteran who grew alongside the sport, she knows that volleyball has become its own giant — games attract thousands of fans and players have millions of followers.

Watching the sport grow into what it is today has been “super rewarding” for Kim because not only has it provided her with a career, but it is also giving many other young athletes the ability to chase their own dreams. And with more youngsters dreaming, the volleyball scene is set to get even more competitive, which will in turn push the country’s talent even further.

With this, Kim recognizes that the future of Philippine volleyball is indeed bright, and it’s already starting to take shape at the collegiate level.

The next generation

The UAAP has always been one of the biggest stages for volleyball in the Philippines. Even before the league took off, fans of the sport would flock to the college scene to show their support, and this still remains true today. In fact, college players become big stars in the Philippines even before becoming professionals, which is often a good predictor of who the next generation of league standouts will be.

Kim Fajardo, who is a three-time UAAP champion herself, can already recognize the talents she believes will hold the torch for the future of Philippine volleyball.

Yung mga ace ng bawat team, sila talaga yung next phase, kasi sila na yung mga susunod sa amin. I would say [the upcoming stars are] Angel Canino, Thea Gagate, Mhicaela Belen, and Alyssa Solomon.”

DLSU Lady Spikers Angel Canino and Thea Gagate are two of the most talented college players and are currently defending champions in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament. On top of this, Canino was also the Rookie of the Year and MVP of last year’s competition, showcasing her talents early in her career.

(Photo credit: UAAP Media)
(Photo credit: UAAP Media)

On the other hand, Michaela Belen and Alyssa Solomon are two of the star players of the NU Lady Bulldogs and led their team to the finals last season. Belen was also a Rookie-MVP herself in the UAAP Season 84 tournament when the Lady Bulldogs last won the title.

Kim believes that what makes these players truly special is their “grit”. Given that college players only have a limited time to play for their schools, every season brings an incredible amount of pressure, and these players always deliver.

Sa akin lang, sana yung ganun spirit madala nila sa pro,” Kim shared. “Yung attitude, iba na talaga sa pros eh. Sa UAAP, you’re fighting for school pride talaga. As in, lalaban ka sa patayan para sa pride. In the pros kasi, pwede mo sabihin na parang ito yung job ko. Sana hindi maging ganun na maglalaro ka lang kasi sumusweldo ka. Sana madala nila yung ganun na spirit sa liga, na gusto ko manalo, hindi kasi trabaho ko ‘to.

Sa pros kasi, up and down talaga, it can be unpredictable… So yung spirit mo, yung fire mo na gusto mo manalo, yung eagerness na kailangan mo, dapat nan dun.”

The way forward

There is no denying that volleyball in the Philippines has grown to become a national favorite. But with local success already in place, the next step would be to gain more success on the international level, which has not been easy in recent years.

The last time the Philippine women’s national volleyball team won a medal in the Southeast Asian Games, for instance, was back in 2005, and the Philippines has had a streak of near-misses, finishing in fourth place in the last four SEA Games editions.

Given how highly competitive volleyball is around Asia, it’s no secret that the level of competition is very high, and the Philippines’ squads still hunger to prove that they can be among the best in the region. Even Kim, who has played for the national team, still feels this way, and she believes that the national team program needs more continuity to achieve their goals.

(Photo credit: Premier Volleyball League on Facebook)

“[The national team needs a] continuous program talaga,” Kim emphasizes. “Kunwari, gumagawa sila ng team na ipapadala sa international competition, tapos pagbalik dito, disband and then form another group. Kailangan maayos yung program at continuous talaga. Hindi kasi talaga pwede mag-expect na pag pinadala mo sa competition and in three months, mananalo. Kailangan mo ng experience, composure, and a team dynamic.”

Kim explains that in her years of experience as a volleyball player, chemistry is one of the biggest factors that can spell the difference between winning or losing. “Yeah, malakas ang mga players natin individually, but yung importante kasi is the connection between players at yung dynamic sa loob ng team. Kailangan years and years of training talaga na magkakasama yun.

As a veteran, Kim knows that playing for the national team is a dream that every athlete holds dearly. “Ang ibang bata, nangangarap talagang makapagsuot ng jersey with the Philippine flag. Yun yung pinakamataas na marating mo as an athlete, at dun mo talaga na masasabi mo na na-pursue mo yung dream mo as a player,” she shares.

With this, Kim hopes that the national team can continue to make more dreams come true, not just by giving players the opportunity to represent the flag, but by giving them the right platform that can help them gain success for the flag as well.

Banner image by Kieran Punay.

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