Manny Pacquiao gives volleyball MPBL-like reach

Executives and team representatives of the MPVA.

Executives and team representatives of the MPVA. –MARLO CUETO/

Manny Pacquiao wants to open a lot of doors.

He wants young volleyball players hidden in local government units so that team owners will give them a chance to these talents to shine and attract scholarships from major varsity programs.

He wants more opportunities for female athletes to show off their skills.

And picking up lessons from his stewardship of the community-based Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL), the eight-division boxing champion and former senator has assembled a volleyball tournament to further expand his grassroots sports involvement.

On Friday, Pacquiao launched the Maharlika Pilipinas Volleyball Association (MPVA) to build on his promise of creating opportunities for sports all over the country.

“I am hoping that MPVA will become an institution league in our country when it comes to volleyball … so that our countrymen will have the chance [to reach their dream of playing at a high level], Pacquiao said during the MPVA press conference at Sheraton Hotel in Pasay City.

Optimism was high among the trailblazing team owners, with some saying that the league “would open doors for players to attract college scouts” and provide MPBL-like access for promising female athletes who “want the same opportunities that male basketball players get.”

Early support

Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao during a press conference

Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao during a press conference for the Maharlika Pilipinas Volleyball Association. –MARLO CUETO/

MPVA officials hope to further boost the national grassroots volleyball program by taking the sport to the local government units (LGUs), something that the debuting league hopes will give aspiring volleyball athletes support early in their careers.

To achieve this, teams will be required to sign three homegrown players and limit the floor time of ex-pros to three at any given time.

Through the league, which held a scouting combine for unheralded players to showcase their capabilities to team owners, Pacquiao is optimistic that aspiring athletes will be able to crack open opportunities to further hone their talents.

Men’s, juniors’ tourney

A men’s tournament and a junior division are also in the works, Pacquiao said, adding that he looks to provide playing chances here so local standouts won’t have to seek employment abroad.

“My vision for MPVA when I say that I am hoping that this becomes an institution [is that] this becomes the home of Filipino athletes when it comes to volleyball so that they won’t choose to play in other countries,” Pacquiao said.

“There are a lot of young Filipinos who are inclined to sports, but we lack in providing them a program so in MPVA, this is where they would start to have the encouragement and of course the achievement of their dreams.”

The MPVA is expected to start in October and run until December this year with 10 teams competing in a single round robin format in the inaugural tournament, which expects to see around 65 games. The playoffs and championship, meanwhile, will be a best-of-three affair.

“Players will be 18 years old [and above] and homegrown [athletes], we will try to discover more talents because this will be a community event,” MPVA commissioner Michael Tavera said.

“Our journey is one of dedication to the sport nurturing talent and giving back to our community. .. beyond that, reaching Filipinos through the power of sports we’re very optimistic and sure that this (league) will be successful,” MPVA acting president and CEO Emmerson Oreta added.

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