The Philippine Volcanoes got a show of support from Globe before leaving to compete in the biggest rugby event in Asia that will decide which team will join host Japan in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
With Globe Chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel De Ayala leading the send-off ceremony, the Volcanoes will battle Singapore, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Chinese Taipei and Afghanistan on November 23 and 24 in Incheon, South Korea. The winner takes a direct route to represent Asia in the Rugby Sevens event of the Summer Games next year in Japan.
“I’ve been a great believer in sports. It brings national unity, it brings our distinct communities of Filipinos from different backgrounds together. I think we have tremendous talent here. I wish you much luck and have no doubt that you guys will be there and make the country proud,” de Ayala said.
While the quest to compete in the biggest stage is daunting, the Volcanoes remain upbeat on their chances to bring home the last ticket in the Asia Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
“The opposition is very strong. We can’t discount the determination of the other teams to get into the Olympics especially Hong Kong and host South Korea. All teams participating in Incheon are expected to give their all and leave everything on the pitch. But we are equally steadfast too to make it to the Tokyo Games and bring honor and glory to our country,” Jake Letts, former Team Captain and now Philippine Volcanoes General Manager, says.
Globe has been supporting rugby and the Philippine Volcanoes since 2010. Two years ago the company renewed its partnership with the national team specifically to help the team qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Games. Since the partnership the Volcanoes have had a steady rise through the Asian Rugby ranks.
The Volcanoes are just one tournament away from fulfilling this goal set several years ago. Starting at 10th in 2016, to 5th in 2017, to 3rd in 2018. The rise has had it's challenges however the team are confident they can put in a top performance come this Saturday in Incheon. They will also try to become the first Filipino rugby team ever to qualify in the Olympic Games.
"It's a monumental task, one that is achievable. We have had our ups and downs like any sports team, hoping this weekend it can come together and we can make the Philippines proud" shared Letts.
Ernest John Obiena became the first Filipino athlete to qualify in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games when he hurdled the Olympic Standard of 5.80 meters for men’s pole vault at the Salto Con L’asta in Piazza Chiari 2019 in Italy last September.
He was followed by gymnast Carlos Yulo after the Filipino dynamo ruled the 49th FIG Artistic Gymnastic World Championships last month. Yulo is the first-ever Filipino to win the gold medal at the prestigious FIG World Championship.
The matches will be played at Namdong Asiad Stadium, Philippines take on Singapore at 9:52 (local time) and China 14:52 (local time) this Saturday. The Sunday schedule will be determined by seedings after the first two matches.