TWO Filipino-mestizo made the country proud with astonishing performance in two iconic sports competitions recently.
Marcus Smith, a British-Filipino and the eldest brother of Philippine Volcano Luc Smith, played a monumental role in the Harlequins FC victory over Exeter Chiefs for the 2021 Gallagher Rugby Premiership. The Harlequins secured the title with a 40 to 38 win with Smith playing a pivotal role.
On the other side, Payne Haas, a Samoan, Swiss-Filipino helped the NSW Blues secure the 2021 State Of Origin Shield. Haas has ties to the Philippine National Rugby League team the Philippine Tamaraws where he previously represented the Tamaraws as a 16-year-old for their junior representative team. Both competitions feature the world’s top players in each code, playing for the most iconic trophies.
Witnessing mixed-raced Filipino top-level talent perform at the highest stage isn’t new, however, it does make a positive impact on aspiring Filipinos who also are looking to make their own mark in their chosen sport. Up and coming Filipino Rugby players, both locally and abroad aspire to play at the highest level and witnessing others do so is a boost to their ambitions.
“It’s always great to see both Marcus and Payne excel, both incredibly talented players and showcasing there is a global Philippine community. These players inspire others who have had similar upbringings, playing both Rugby and Rugby League with either one or both parents being Filipino” says Jake Letts, CEO of Philippine Rugby.
Filipino athletes having access to top-line coaching from a young age makes a significant difference to their personal skill development. In addition, being nurtured in a pathway and system that fosters youth development will ensure their skills are being tested against the best in their age group. All in all, this allows their development to shine when they hit their peak performance stage.
“You can immediately tell when a player possesses the raw skill and is exposed to quality coaching and quality Rugby. Take for example Luc Smith, Marcus’s brother, both have been through the systems of quality Rugby programs and both are playing at the top level for their respected teams” added Letts.
Luc was part of the Philippines Gold Medal Southeast Asian Games team was also selected as the team’s top player for that competition. Replicating that coaching pathway on the local stage is what Philippine Rugby aims to achieve in the future.
“If we can continue to get top coaches teaching our local coaches and local players, that benefits the whole Rugby community. As a Union we adopt the World Rugby Coaching Courses which start again at the end of July, we also recruit top coaches to coach our elite national programs to ensure we are consistently surrounded by the ever-changing landscape of coach education and training” added Letts.
Filipinos love to see other Filipinos do well, it doesn’t matter if they are a quarter, half or full-blooded. Being proudly Pinoy is a unique trait, one that represents all who have Philippine blood running through their veins. It’s not only the bloodline that connects someone who is proudly Pinoy for the Volcanoes, it is also evident in residents who call the Philippines home, they too share this unique feeling. Philippine Resident players who are selected to represent the Philippines elect to choose to play for the Philippines, as they also share the feeling of ‘proudly Pinoy’.
“We have a number of resident-based players, who qualify to play for Philippine Rugby because they have called the Philippines home. Two players in our current program have lived in the Philippines for over a decade, and couldn’t be prouder to represent the Philippines and see Filipinos succeed on the world stage” Letts shared.
Philippine Rugby will continue to see Filipinos playing Rugby overseas, even if Rugby still has some time to return to their home country because of the pandemic. The Volcanoes Development team will start their 7s Development competitions in the United Kingdom next weekend, playing at the Macclesfield 7s on July 10. The Volcanoes have up to 30 players in their global pool of players, who all live and reside in the United Kingdom. The players are proud to wear the colors of the Philippines and are proud to be Pinoy.