The Philippine Women’s Volleyball team that will see action in the 28th SEA Games in Singapore is filled with talent, versatility, and athleticism. Led by stars Alyssa Valdez, Rachel Anne Daquis, Jaja Santiago, Dindin Santiago-Manabat, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, and Abby Marano, the national team is optimistic that they can reach a podium finish in this year’s South East Asian Games.
But before the National Women’s Volleyball team begin their quest for gold, another prominent name in the Philippine volleyball scene has already played in the 2015 SEA Games, but she is not part of any volleyball squad.
Michelle Datuin, a former collegiate star who played for the De La Salle Lady Spikers in the 2000s is now donning the national colors for the Philippine national netball team Siklab Pilipinas, who made its debut in this year’s SEA Games.
Datuin, who was once a member of a superior DLSU Lady Spikers team that won multiple titles in the UAAP, fell in love with netball when she was encouraged by another former volleybelle Michiko Castaneda of UP to try it out a couple of months after she graduated from La Salle. Since then, her affection for the sport continued to grow as time passed by.
Netball, though may sound new to most Filipinos, is actually a very popular sport for women all over the world. Netball at first glance would look like another version of basketball, but it’s not. There are a lot of differences between those two games.
Netball originated in England sometime during the nineteenth century. Primarily a women’s game, Netball is really only played by men occasionally and recreationally. The sport is well known in Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Sri Lanka, Fiji, and Samoa.
Netball is also prominent in Asian countries like China, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Maldives, and the SEA Games host, Singapore, which is a powerhouse in South East Asia. Philippines is the complete opposite of Singapore, as the country is a newbie on the Netball scene.
Datuin admitted that letting go of volleyball was not easy, but she had to make a choice, and eventually, she chose her new found love. The thrill of trying something new convinced Datuin to leave volleyball, which was her sport since her childhood years, for Netball.
However, Datuin is not closing her doors to volleyball, saying that if opportunity is presented, she will gladly take it. But as for now, her focus remains on Netball. She has the opportunity to be the face of the sport in the country, which is slowly but surely taking its baby steps towards relevance and popularity.
Datuin and the rest of Siklab Pilipinas bowed out of SEA Games without a win.
Datuin is best remembered for leading the DLSU Lady Spikers to multiple championships in the UAAP together with Illa Santos, Stephanie Mercado, Jacqueline Alarca, Cha Cruz, and national volleyball player Marano. Together, that team tormented UAAP women’s volleyball division for years.
Datuin said she will still support the national volleyball teams of the Philippines as they compete for the gold medal in the on-going SEA Games.