MANILA, Philippines -- The 16 players who attended the tryouts in Subic on Wednesday are assured of spots in the women's national team "in principle," but those who missed the event will not make it.
This, according to Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) president Ramon "Tats" Suzara.
"I want to be fair to all, no try out, no national team," Suzara firmly told Dyan Castillejo of ABS-CBN News.
Only 16 of the 40 players invited by the PNVF to try out for the women's team attended the event at the Subic Gymnasium.
Among the players are national team mainstays Jaja Santiago, Aby Maraño, Majoy Baron, and Mylene Paat, as well as veterans Iris Tolenada, Ria Meneses, and Dell Palomata. Young players Eya Laure, Kamille Cal, Mhicaela Belen, Ivy Lacsina, Alyssa Solomon, Jennifer Nierva, Faith Nisperos, Imee Hernandez and Bernadette Pepito also attended.
Asked by Castillejo if the 16 players are set to make the national team, Suzara said: "Yes, in principle."
"Of course, we just need to be approved by the federation, by the board and the national team commission," he added. "But in principle, I'm very happy that these players, they have their own strong heart and mind in coming to the tryouts."
Several players, including SEA Games veterans Alyssa Valdez, Jia Morado, and Maddie Madayag, did not attend the tryouts. Tony Boy Liao, the head of the national team commission, said players have expressed concerns about their health and safety given the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response, Suzara said: "Everyone of us are really afraid. The players, the coaches, the staff, all these types of things. But we have to push through with the timeline."
Sources close to the situation have informed ABS-CBN News that some players are concerned not just about the COVID-19 pandemic, but also regarding the protocols implemented by the federation for the tryout.
Players have also expressed their concern about a lack of conditioning, given their inactivity due to the global health crisis. All volleyball competitions in the country were cancelled in 2020, leading players to settle for online workouts.
Suzara is now asking those who missed the tryouts to continue supporting the national team, as well as the federation itself. However, he stressed that in the interest of fairness, they will not make it to the squad that is set to represent the country in the 2021 Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam later this year.
"Even though they are not able to attend the tryouts, support the national team, support the federation. I know it's not easy for them to decide to come to these tryouts, but we have to do this exercise, to be transparent, to be fair," said Suzara.
"If you don't try out, you will not make the national team. I want to be fair to all, no try out, no national team," he said.
The tryouts continue Thursday, this time for the men's team. Suzara said 38 players are expected to attend, out of the 40 invited by the federation. On Friday, they will hold the tryouts for the beach volleyball teams.