Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Fabio Menta hopes to make a difference for Philippine volleyball

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Fabio Menta hopes to make a difference for Philippine volleyball
by rick olivares

After an aborted stint with Foton, Italian coach Fabio Menta was all set to leave the Philippines but he quickly fell in love with the country and its burgeoning volleyball scene.

“I am a teacher,” pronounced the 54-year old coach who has coached almost every continent save for Africa. “Well, I was a player before but I love the game so much.”

Like many kids growing up in Europe (Menta is from Sicily), Fabio grew playing football. “I was and still am an AC Milan fan,” he shared of his roots. “But later on my coach got me into track and field where I was a high jumper. I started volleyball in 15 and in two years’ time, I was playing professional volleyball. I played until my knee allowed me to perform at a high level. Then I stopped for a long time until I got called back in the Bahamas where I won a national title there. That got me back in the game. I was in Cuba and then Italy

The Italian was all set to fly out last Monday, October 3 but he opted to get a new ticket for a later date. In the meantime, Menta has been watching lots of volleyball from the Shakey’s V-League to camps in and outside Manila. “In terms of enthusiasm for the game, this is one of the best countries I have seen,” glowed Menta. “When I look at the game, I see opportunities to help improve the skills of the players. In the meantime, I have learned to love this country in a short time and hopefully, I get a chance to run a program and show what I can do.”

For Menta, volleyball one of the few compete sports where you have to train the whole mind and body. “The game is very quick and the athletes have to be very intelligent. More often than not you do not have time to think so you have to mechanized everything. It’s a challenge every game.

Having hones his craft throughout the world, the Italians view about the game is different. “Watching local volleyball, I noticed that players serve only one way every single time. The great Brazilian coach, Ze Roberto, said that you cannot get into the national team if you cannot serve four different types of services. I only ask for three. Here it is only one. The service as we all know is the first point of attack and I think while it is utilized, it is underutilized if you understand what I am saying.”

“It is glamorous of course, for people to see the spikes. But the whole concept of volleyball isn’t limited to spiking. There isn’t much interest in the defensive side, service, and other aspects.”

Menta named some volleyball players who have tremendous potential outside the well-known such as Alyssa Valdez, Jaja Santiago, and Aby Maraño to name a few. “I like Bea De Leon and Jasmine Nabor who have so much potential. UST has some as well. But I do not know everyone yet. I am watching more and more games.”

Right now, Menta is looking to field offers, if any. “As long as we can do something for a couple of years. A program doesn’t take off overnight. You cannot take the quick fix position in volleyball. In many cases, what we see are we have players. Not athletes. There is a difference.”

And Fabio Menta is hoping. Hoping to make a difference in this country that he has grown to love.

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