As the hype from the recent La Salle Athletic League (LSAL) Basketball championship game slowly dies down, two other leagues are about to begin their own fanfare—the much anticipated LSAL Volleyball and Football tournaments.
Basketball has been the most popular sport in the Philippines over the past few decades. It was only recently that volleyball and football came into view through the help of people’s increasing interest in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Women’s Volleyball tournament and the Philippine National Football Team, or more commonly known as the Philippine Azkals. It is no surprise that this rise in interest has also taken over De La Salle University (DLSU) and the organizing committee of LSAL.
LSAL now has three different leagues throughout the academic year wherein Lasallians can join and compete against one another. The recently concluded LSAL Basketball tournament takes place from the second term to the beginning of third, while the LSAL Volleyball and Football leagues take place right after the basketball league in the third term.
Compared to LSAL Basketball, the LSAL Volleyball and Football tournaments are not as popular. “I think mas popular talaga yung basketball because of the sport itself,” says Vic Sebastian, LSAL commissioner.
This year, the La Salle Sports Commission’s (LSSC) target was to gather only 75 basketball teams, but they were able to gain one more team than planned and Sebastian also shares the status of the volleyball league saying, “Pero sa volleyball naman, target namin is 16 [teams]. As of now, 10 pa lang. So hopefully, may sumali pa.” And in football, they had barely reached their quota of 10 to 12 teams for the tournament to take place.
Team B players join in
One of the perks that makes LSAL interesting is getting a chance to play with some of the Team B varsity players. These players are allowed by the Office of Sports Development (OSD) to join the league for a chance to hone their skills and in addition, give them their time to shine.
According to Sebastian, in the previous LSAL season, there were two to three Team B players who joined LSAL Volleyball. “Pero this year, may mga teams na nagte-text sa akin na kung pwede ba [magsali] ng Team B players. Around four people texted me. Sabi ko, one lang [maximum],” he adds.
Although having players from Team B may seem intimidating at first, it does not mean that the non-varsity players cannot step up to the challenge and sometimes pull off some surprises of their own. “We were kinda strong pero we still lost in the finals,” shares Darrell Cheng, a former Football Team B player of La Salle and the current co-head of LSAL Football, on his experience in last year’s LSAL.
In this era, social media became the best medium to use for advertising as it has already developed into a norm for a person, especially the youth or the student body itself. Naturally, the LSSC concentrated on social media for the publicity of LSAL. “Everyone’s on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram. So they’re really gonna see it,” Sebastian reasons. Another method that the LSSC used for advertising is setting up posters on the 7th floor of Razon. Also, they asked for the PE department to help them with regards to the league’s publicity. “For example, volleyball yung sport nila, then sumali sila ng [LSAL}, may incentives sila sa PE,” explains Vic.
Similar with last year’s event, the league this year is a mixed volleyball and football league since it would consume more time from the calendar if it were a separate tournament for men’s and women’s.
Something new for LSAL Volleyball is the fact that the alumni are now allowed to join. Ever since the recent rule that allows alumni cardholders to enter the campus throughout the week including Saturdays, alumni have more opportunities to participate in the games.
Meanwhile, in LSAL Football, the venue has been transferred to Circuit Makati instead of DLSU-STC’s field, which was last year’s venue. As a result, the registration fee for the league has gone up because of the venue’s high rent as opposed to the free use of STC’s field last year. “From our survey naman, we asked them if they’re willing to pay more for a better venue. Okay naman [sa kanila],” Sebastian assures.
The flow of the leagues
As of press time, the LSAL Volleyball is still open for registration in hopes to reach the 16-team quota. Once completed, they will be divided into four brackets containing four teams each. Then, one round robin will be played and the top two of each bracket will participate in a single elimination playoff. The winners will advance to the semi-finals, which will then determine who will move on to the finals. Although, the system may change depending on the number of registered teams.
In LSAL Football, however, there are a total of ten teams competing this year, which will be divided into two groups of five teams. A round robin will take place and the top two teams of each group will participate in the semi-finals, and then the winners will also face off in the finals.
As the start of LSAL Volleyball and Football approaches, the excitement of the players are beginning to grow. The basketball league may have just finished, but the time for volleyball and football is just about to begin. The tournaments will be held around the third or fourth week of February. The venue of the volleyball league is at the Enrique M. Razon Sports Complex, while the football tournament will take place at Circuit Makati.