OFW Jai Alai player caught in Hurricane Irma
DANIA BEACH, FL — Jai alai player Charlie Medrano lost some court time practice when Hurricane Irma pounded south Florida last weekend.
He is among those who rode out the storm.
“Walang kuryente, hindi ka makapanood ng news, kung ano ang nangyayari sa labas, so yesterday, I had a chance naglakad-lakad ako dun sa area namin yun nga nga nakita ko mga bagsak na puno, mga putol na branches.”
Medrano came to the US in July under a P-1 visa — an internationally recognized athlete’s visa — after a four-year hiatus from the fastest game in the world.
He was already playing for Dania years ago, but he took a break to study business management in the Philippines – a backup plan when he retires from this infamously dangerous sport.
Those lost days of practice were crucial for his first game at the Dania Beach jai alai Fronton on Friday.
“Yung bawat araw na hindi kami nakaka praktis, ige-generalize ko an rin sa mga player, siyempre yung routine naming nababago, yung vista namin pagdating sa bola.”
The Filipino pelotari says, at 30 years old, he constantly needs to be at the top of his game to keep his work visa renewed yearly.
“Kailangan ko ng malaking adjustment kasi ngayon, bago na ulit akong player, from 4 years without playing.”
“It’s gonna take him some time to get up to speed, but once he gets to a certain point, he has the foundation to play well,” said his manager Benny Bueno.
The Dania Beach fronton is known for hiring the best pelotaris from around the world, but the current immigration process is hurting their roster of good international players.
The Dania Neach jai alai player manager says that Medrano was one of the lucky ones. A number of petitions have been delayed or even denied.