CAGAYAN DE ORO – In a significant homecoming event, Sammy Acaylar, recognized as one of the top volleyball coaches in the Philippines, fulfilled a long-standing desire to give back to his hometown, Cagayan de Oro.
The realization of Acaylar's wish took place on Saturday night as his team, Gerflor, faced off against Akari in the opening game of the Premier Volleyball League Second All-Filipino Conference double-header at the Aquilino Q. Pimentel International Convention Center.
Reflecting on the emotional importance of the occasion, Acaylar expressed, "It’s a long story. I have long aspired to contribute and help here in Cagayan de Oro City because this is where I come from. I am extremely happy because I was able to come back, and the PVL played here." The seasoned coach, a native of the city, received a plaque of recognition after the match, alongside fellow Cagayanon, Erika Raagas of the Chargers.
"I am so proud. I never expected them to acknowledge me, which I have been waiting for many years. In Manila, they give me recognition, but here in Cagayan de Oro City, they never did. But I am thankful to the Mayor because he gave me what I deserved," he added.
Acaylar, who often visits Cagayan de Oro during the holiday season, appreciated the opportunity to reunite with his family after less than a year. Despite recent challenges related to salary issues, the Perpetual men’s volleyball head coach encouraged his team to stay focused on their performance on the court.
"Of course, I always tell my players that the problems are just there. We have to solve the problem by playing a good game in our remaining matches," said Acaylar. "The players responded positively. I told them that the recognition will come back to them if they don't perform well. So, we set aside everything for now."
In the midst of the warm welcome from fans, the decorated tactician expressed his hope for the league to return to Cagayan de Oro in the future. Additionally, he aims to continue contributing to the volleyball community in his hometown.
"I never expected CDO to be this supportive. I am so happy. This is one of the cities that supports volleyball. I said, I hope there will be more like this next time."