Tchoukball ready for liftoff

THE GAME OF MY LIFE - Bill Velasco - The Philippine Star

The Tchoukball Association of the Philippines (TAP) is now going all-out to secure the resources needed to send the Philippine men’s team to the quadrennial World Tchoukball Championships (WTC) in Prague, Czech Republic next year. At the last minute, TAP sent a lean eight-man team (seven starters and only one substitute) to the Asia-Pacific Tchoukball Championships (APTC) last June. The valiant squad finished third and qualified for Prague. The goal at the WTC is to crack the top three, composed of world champion Taiwan, rising power Italy, and perennial Southeast Asian foil Singapore.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for us to bring honor to the country,” says TAP president Raymund Jamelo. “God willing, we will do everything we can to make sure the men have the best possible shot at the top countries.”

The biggest challenge now is sourcing funds for the trip. It is, coincidentally, the first time the World Championships will be held outside of Asia. Unfortunately, this impacts the cost of sending a delegation for a team sport to Europe. While the round-trip airfares range from over P 53,000 (Manila-Hong Kong-Paris-Prague and vice versa) to more than P82,000 (Manila-Prague-Manila) per person, each has its own challenges. A missed connection would mean rebooking with delays and additional costs. Other options like flying Lufthansa and landing in Frankfurt would add an inconvenient transfer between airport terminals to change airlines or from the airport to the train station. The range of travel time would be from roughly 17 hours’ flight to a trip in excess of 32 hours. The most expensive flights alone would cost a total of over P1 million.

Ideally, the country should send a full contingent of 12 players and at least three officials. Each participating country is required to bring two licensed international referees, which they pay for upon registration. National men’s playing coach John Jamelo is also a qualified referee, but it would be too much to ask him to play, coach and referee for an additional three hours every day. Plus, the sport’s general assembly will be held the day before the competition, hence the need to bring a TAP official. The best cost-cutting solution would be to trim down the number of players from a full team of 12 to 11 or less. The savings would be significant.

TAP  has been a member of the Philippine Olympic Committee for four years. Based in Bacolod, the association’s top officials had an introductory meeting with Philippine Sports Commission chair Noli Eala there last week. They are awaiting the formal invitation from the WTC organizers so they may request for support from the PSC. TAP believes the current roster of players have a great chance of scoring upsets over the giants of the sport.

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