Six months ago, Ms Dinx Carin and three friends decided to set up a volleyball league for fellow Filipinas.
Now, the all-women league, called Sports@Sg, has more than 700 members and 26 teams.
Many teams have their own coaches, uniforms, logos and even team flags.
Nearly 70 per cent are maids who spend their limited days off training or competing in the Sunday matches. Their enthusiasm is something that has taken even the league’s founders by surprise.
“For me, if I had only two days off a month, I would rather rest,” said Ms Carin, 44, who works as a video editor. “It’s surprising and really inspirational how dedicated they are about this.”
Players said volleyball is popular among women in the Philippines, much like football is in Singapore.
“The famous volleyball players get a lot of endorsements and, when they play, the spectators fill up the whole arena,” said Ms Gretchen Francisco, 38, who works as a marketing and communications executive.
News of the volleyball league spread by word of mouth, and many began taking their friends to the games.
Many matches are played at the OCBC Arena, which the league organisers book on Sundays from 10am to 4pm.
Ms Carin and the other founders do not play, but serve as referees or document each match in pictures and videos, which are then posted on the league’s website or social media pages.
“It’s just for fun, but they’ve really bonded over that,” she said. “They like to see themselves playing, and they show their relatives and friends in the Philippines what they are doing on their days off.”
Ms Cherry Ann Fronda, who works as a caregiver for an old woman with dementia, said her employers are supportive of her hobby.
“When there is someone who is able to look after the old lady, they are happy for me to go out and play volleyball,” said the 38-year-old.
“It’s my passion; I’ve been playing since I was eight. It’s tiring but, at the same time, it can be very relaxing.”
Ms Carin herself plays in friendly games between matches to keep fit and have fun at the same time.
“I used to really like being lazy and doing nothing, but I see it differently now,” she said.
“When you decide to be active, it becomes a habit and it really affects the amount of energy you have.”
by Linnete Lai