Getting the elusive gold for Sepak Takraw Hoop was sweet revenge Sunday for the Sepak Takraw Women’s Philippine team.
Pitted against long-time rival Myanmar for the 2019 Sepak Takraw Hoop championship game, Sarah Jean Catain-Kalalo remembers her team losing to the country in the 2005 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
The Myanmar team was composed of the same athletes they were pitted against in the past so when they failed to surpass the number of hoops landed by the Philippine team in this year’s SEAG, Sarah Jean could hardly believe it.
Sarah Jean told Palawan News that she became a part of the national team as a student at Palawan National School (PNS) last November 2002. Her first SEAG was in Vietnam in 2003.
As she was in the science class of PNS, the demands of playing for the national team took a toll on her so Sarah Jean decided to switch to the regular curriculum.
She said she has no regrets as she has been playing for the national team continuously until the 2011 SEAG.
She got into the Air Force in 2012 and started her own family.
In Mid-2019, she was approached to play again for the Philippine team for the 30th SEA Games. She joined the team in training in Thailand from August 2019 to November 2019.
They had a competition composed of the same players and the Philippine contingent went home with a bronze, while Myanmar got silver and Thailand got the gold. From there, she said they proceeded to Subic for training to maximize their home-court advantage.
Their hard work and prayers paid off when Team Philippines won gold for both the Men and Women’s Sepak Takraw Hoop Event.
“Kung ano man ‘yong hilig nilang sports, i-push nila ‘yong gusto nila…process by process at years din ang bibilangin bago makamit ang gold…tiwala sa sarili, dasal sa Lord at hindi ka Niya pababayaan,” said Sarah Jean.
She said she has been interested in sepak takraw as early as her elementary years, but the game was not played in the school levels for women. It was only in high school that she had the opportunity to express her interest.
Sarah Jean said she got lucky when her potential was caught early on and encouraged by Camilo Apdon, who was a national team coach.
Sarah Jean is joined by another Palaweña and two Palaweños in the Philippine Sepak Takraw contingent — Josefina Maat (Sepak Takraw Hoop), Jeffrey Morcillos (Sepak Takraw Hoop), and Ronsited Gabayeron (Sepak Takraw Regu).
“We would like to thank all the Palaweños who are supporting and sending love to the Philippine team. Alay po namin ang panalong ito sa bansang Pilipinas,” Sarah Jean said.
Teammate Josefina Maat encourages young athletes, on the other hand, not to lose hope if they lose in their competitions.
“Huwag mawawalan ng pag-asa. Patuloy lang na abutin ang mga pangarap at huwag kalimutang manalig sa Panginoon,” she said.
Jeffrey Morcillos of the Men’s Sepak Takraw Hoop said, “first is to trust the Lord and believe in who they are, and give their best every time they play.”