Roy Cañete and Tani Gomez, veteran members of the Philippine water polo team, are still optimistic about the inclusion of the sport in this year’s Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Vietnam.
The two helped the national team to a silver medal finish in the SEA Games two years ago here, but their quest of winning a gold medal in this year’s biennial meet remains a question.
Almost eight months after the host country released the sports disciplines for the 2021 meet, the SEA Games organizing committee in Vietnam has yet to act on the appeal of water polo national teams in the region all hoping for the sport to be added.
“We’re still waiting. Our hope, our prayer is for water polo to be included,” said Gomez, 39, who has played for the national team since the 2001 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in Malaysia.
“I’m still positive for water polo to be added in the SEA Games. Yes there is an appeal, so for now, as athletes, we just need to keep preparing, keep training,” added the 40-year-old Cañete.
The host’s organizing committee has included 40 sports on its initial list of disciplines, and water polo, which has been in the SEA Games since its inclusion in 1965, was left off.
Singapore won the gold medal since water polo’s debut in the SEA Games, until Indonesia won the gold medal owing to its win-draw-loss record of 3-1-0 followed by the Philippines (2-2-0) and Singapore (2-1-1).
The other nations in the event were Thailand and Malaysia.
In the history of the SEA Games, water polo competitions were successfully organized twice despite the non-participation of the host nation – 2009 in Laos and 2013 in Myanmar.
“It’s still possible. I think if Vietnam has no team, the five other nations – based on the participation of the last SEA Games – can still hold the event. But it needs to be approved by the organizing committee in Vietnam,” said former national team star and now coach Dale Evangelista.