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Sunday November 27, 2005

Different ball game for Filipino women cagers

NEW ROLES: Philippine national basketball players attend to Thailand media personnel as they serve their duty as volunteers for the 23rd SEA Games in Manila.
THE Philippines women's basketball players may have been denied a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make an appearance in front of their home crowd but they will very much remain a part of the Games. 

They are serving as volunteers. 

When news broke two weeks ago that the SEA Games Federation (SGF) Council have supported the decision of the Philippines Olympic Council (POC) to drop the sport from the programme, the players were crestfallen. 

“Our country is hosting the Games again after so long (14 years) and we know we will never get the chance again to play at home. It's very sad but there is nothing we can do,” said centre Mary Ellyn Caasi. 

To remain in the Games, Caasi and her teammates decided to offer their services as volunteers. 

“All of us decided that since we had no chance to play, we might as well make ourselves useful and serve as volunteers,” said the 31-year-old. 

“It's the next best thing for us. We want to wear the (Games) tag and serve the country,” said Caasi, who is one of three players serving at the Main Press Centre (MPC). 

If basketball had been contested, it would have been the fourth SEA Games appearance for Caasi. 

It's not just the players who will be joining in as volunteers. 

Coach Emelia Yega, will be part of the media support services at the MPC. 

As volunteers, they only receive a meal allowance of 250 pesos each daily.