Some young athletes consider sports as nothing more than a college hobby, but for former Ateneo Lady Eagle Charo Soriano, it is a vocation.
Almost a decade after she graduated from university, instead of donning corporate wear for an 8-to-5 job, Soriano chose swimsuits and sandy beaches, leading the way in promoting beach volleyball in the country.
"Choosing athletic careers over corporate careers is not a common decision made in the Philippines. Some people tend to cringe over this choice, especially in a society where job stability is expected in your 30s," said Soriano, 32.
A VOLLEYBALL PLAYER, NOTHING LESS
Soriano is one of the founders of Beach Volleyball Republic, an organization which focuses on promoting beach volleyball in the Philippines. She also founded Perlas Spikers, the country's first indoor volleyball club.
"I feel so blessed that I am able to wake up every day to do things that I am passionate about. It was a choice that I made – to play the game I love and to promote and grow volleyball in the Philippines through grassroots programs, nationwide tournaments, and international competition," she said.
It's passion, she said, that fueled her to pursue this career path. And she's thankful that the stars aligned.
"People say that I’m lucky. But, honestly, I don't think it's luck. It has much to do with the choices that I have been making – and I choose to live passionately," she said.
SPIKING AT THE BEACH
Unlike her contemporaries, who have to wear corporate attire and face computer screens for at least eight hours a day, Soriano wears swimwear--often a bikini--for most of her workday. While comfortable for her vocation as an athlete, it also has its downsides.
"As female players, we've had people objectify us because we wear bikinis as our playing uniform. I had to process the times when I got cat called during games by men whistling. It's been hard, not only for me, but for other women beach volleyball players, too," she said.
Yet, the cat callers are drowned out by the cheers of spectators when her games start heating up. Soriano is thankful that, although sports is considered a male-dominated industry, she is surrounded by supportive men and women.
"Women should not be blamed for what they wear nor for how they express their individuality," she said. "When the game ends, winning is not only about the score, but it’s also about gaining the respect of the spectators.”
PERSISTING AMID CHALLENGES
Soriano's job is not all fun and games--aside from catcallers, she has also had to endure the stress of frequent travel, and issues caused by frequent exposure to the elements such as hair fall.
For someone who considers her hair a representation of her individuality, hair fall is a no-no.
"My hair is an expression of my feelings -- it shows my personality, my mood, my emotions," she said.
"It's quite annoying every time I see so much hair on my brush when I tie it to get ready for training or for my game. Hair fall and having an active lifestyle really does not match. I’m so happy
there’s Dove Hair Fall Range."
After using Dove Hair Fall Range, Soriano said she noticed less hair fall, which has spiked her confidence back.
"I feel a sense of freedom and confidence when I don’t need to think about falling hair. It’s one less thing to worry about in my everyday life. And the more confident and worry-free I am, the more productive I can be," she said.
In three years, Soriano has officiated 33 events. As an organizer, founder, and player, she feels empowered for she does things that genuinely make her happy.
"The best part about it is seeing the rest of the volleyball community grow. Athletes become better, referees gain more knowledge in officiating. It just makes me feel fulfilled," she said.
And she doesn't think it will ever stop.
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