Sepak Takraw chief to field in ‘best players’ for SEA Games

THE best players will play.

That’s how Karen Tanchanco-Caballero simply put the composition of the Philippine sepak takraw team competing in this year’s Southeast Asian Games.

Although the sport has produced more potential players from Palawan ang the Visayas, the head of the Pilipinas Sepak Takraw Association Inc., believes the team that will be sent to the Southeast Asian Games should come from different parts of the country and do away with the regional mentality.

“One of the bigger reasons why we put up the Philippine Sepak Takraw League, is to do away with the regional mentality.  It’s a Filipino sport. It’s not just Bisaya. It’s not just Tagalog,” Ms. Caballero told FOX Sports Philippines in an exclusive interview.

Although Ms. Caballero admitted that the sport is not appealing to the A and B class, particularly in the metropolis, her group was able to get a fair share of talents from different parts of the country.

“Usually, this sport, hindi ito appealing sa mga conyo kids of Metro Manila. Even if you checked out the data of Batang Pinoy and Palarong Pambansa, sepak takraw has one of the strongest following sa masa,” added Ms. Caballero.

“Palawan has been the hotbed of sepak takraw. Talagang noon pa, supportive na si Mayor (Edward) Hagedorn. When I took office, I hated yung mentality ng mga tao na ‘ay takraw, laro ng mga Bisaya yan. Ay, takraw, laro ng Palawan yan.’  Regional mentality pa rin yung pinaiiral natin.”

For Ms. Caballero, the players who will see action are culled from different cities and provinces and those who will earn spots to the national team competing in the SEA Games to be held in the Philippines from late November to second week of December are those deserved to be included regardless of  where they came from.

“Even yung composition ko sa national team, we’re all represented. I don’t like them thinking ‘Ah, Bisaya Mafia andyan.’ Dito sa team ng sepak takraw, may Tagalog, may Bisaya, may taga-Mindanao, may taga-Palawan. The best players would play. Very conscious ang coaching staff ko na Philippines is for everybody,” she added.

Presently, sepak takraw’s Team A squad is currently undergoing training in Thailand while also joining in several tournaments there. Thailand, according to Ms. Caballero, has been the barometer of teams competing in this sport.

“Thailand is our barometer. They own the sport. Nung 2016, tinalo na natin sila. Ang problema, hindi ko ma-duplicate,” added Ms. Caballero. “Pinatulan ko lahat ng malalaruan nila. Even a league in Thailand. Ito na yung well-prepared, well-funded na team we’re putting up.”

Choosing Thailand as a destination for training camp after working out in Korea last summer was no brainer.

“Bukod sa training camp, may mga invitational events and they joined the biggest Thailand League. Thailand is the best. Kahit world championship, hindi ka uubra sa Thailand,” said Ms Caballero.

“Actually, impressed ako sa Team A natin. Sila yung pinadala natin for exposure and nakakatalo na sila. Sa akin kasi, kahit world championship yan at sino padala mo doon, walang mananalo sa Thailand. Pero I’m happy may mga tinatalo na tayong isa sa mga malalakas na team doon.”

Photo from Karen Tanchanco-Caballero’s Facebook