* This was my column in the April 22, 2018 issue of Island News.
By NIMROD NL QUINONES
A fraternity brother, who I used to play varsity volleyball with, recently got in touch with me asking if I knew of players who could suit up for their team in one of the big leagues based in Manila.
He was also asking me if I could recommend some players to play for the collegiate basketball team of our school in the UAAP citing how difficult recruitment has become due to the competition.
This was not the first time I was asked to help scout for potentials from the Visayas region and I am sure it won’t also be the last.
With professional and school teams now looking for talent from all sources possible, this is good news for the younger generation of athletes as it means they have somewhere to go to after their age-group playing days.
Through the years, the Philippines has produced many young sporting talents, who ruled the world in their age categories but never got a chance dominate as professionals.
The simple reason was that there was nowhere to go after our athletes completed their college education as only basketball had a professional league then.
We had many great young players who were world beaters, but they never had a chance to make an impact as professionals because there was nowhere to go to in the past years.
With an emerging professional league, many Filipino volleyball players are now not only getting a better education, but also have several years added to their playing days.
Years ago, I was involved in the Governor’s Cup in Cebu, which had teams composed of residents of a city or town compete against each other.
One of the towns that had a team made up mainly of very young girls was Catmon and years later many of them did not just become varsity players in Cebu, but also in Manila.
The most popular in the bunch is probably Gretchel Soltones of San Sebastian College-Recoletos.
I have also seen how young boys, who I once saw play in the football festivals and the small leagues in Cebu have earned their starting positions in the teams competing in the UAAP and the NCAA and getting called to play for the national teams.
While the world has become bigger for the young athletes, it has also become harder to find new talent to fill the rosters since everyone now wants only the best.
My brother said that the scouts seem to have exhausted all leagues except the barangay competitions in search of new talent.
I think that is where they should look next to find the proverbial diamond in the rough.
Staring your children young in sports could mean more than just making them champions in the intramurals, inter-school meets, and maybe the Palarong Pambansa.
It could be their ticket to good education and the life that we parents dream that out children will have.
The Philippine sports scene today is much different from what it was a score of even a decade ago. Athletes now have somewhere better to go starting in high school going up to the professional ranks for many sporting events.
Getting your child into sports is the first step that you have to take.