Volleyball official wants to see gradual return to action to save sport from collapse

Brian Yalung

Posted at May 28 2020 06:58 PM | Updated as of May 28 2020 07:58 PM

Peter Cayco, president of Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas Inc. (LVPI), the sport's national governing body acknowledged that he is not that optimistic of seeing some sporting events resuming soon. Josh Albelda, ABS-CBN News

Top national sports association officials are set to sit down and discuss measures to determine the fate of Philippine sports on Friday.

Peter Cayco, national training director of Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas Inc. (LVPI), the sport's national governing body, confirmed on Thursday that he will be one of the heads meeting with Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) president Philip Ella Juico.

Cayco said that sports leaders will be submitting position papers to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases with hopes of resuming some sports leagues. Basketball and volleyball were among the sports excluded from the list of sports activities allowed while under general community quarantine.

"It's a meeting between other NSAs. Magkakaroon kami ng position paper to be sent to the IATF tapos titingnan kung ano ang magiging reaction nila," Cayco said in an interview.

He acknowledged that he is not that optimistic to see some sports resuming soon. He pointed out how the number of COVID-19 cases in the country continue to spike in the past days. For him, it is all wait and see.

"We are hoping for the best, pero me personally I am not that optimistic. We are seeing a spike in the number of cases the past three days. So it's more or less kung anuman payagan ng IATF. Basta nakahanda kami sa kanilang parameters at protocols na i-implement ng IATF. We will abide," Cayco said.

On the resumption of commercial volleyball, Cayco said he feels the earliest possible time for games to resume is end of September. However, he cautioned that there will have to be strict protocols in place and that the games will nowhere be near regular volleyball.

Cayco stressed how leagues will only allow half the capacity of the usual spectators watching games. He also added that holding games will be more expensive considering they will have to adopt to IATF safety protocols.

" 'Yung mga additional expense, like for sanitation, lahat 'yan kelangan natin gawin. And another is like sa NCAA, all coaches, players, game officials and utility workers would have to undergo (COVID-19) testing muna," Cayco said.

[SUBHEAD] Can't gamble with people's health

When asked about the frequency of testing, the LVPI official said it will be held periodically and not every game. Cayco added that the number of people allowed on the benches will be limited.

"Siguro isang coach at dalawang assistant, tama na. minsan kasi 'yung iba hanggang 8 to 9 ang nakaupo sa bench," he said.

Cayco also stressed that the case will be different for college volleyball. Games will be held indoors with no fans. Cayco is fully aware of the risks of having spectators during games.

"Siguro no audience muna. Mahirap isugal. Isang kaso lang lumabas dyan, mahirap na," he said.

With no clue on when sports such as basketball or volleyball can resume, Cayco said it will take some time to see them back. Assuming they would be allowed by January, the earliest possible time for tournaments to return could be May 2021.

Cayco said this was derived after discussing with sports and conditioning coaches. He was informed that it would take at least three months for athletes to get back in shape. Assuming games are allowed to start by January, the earliest possible time would be April. But with Holy Week traditions happening at that time, May looms as the earliest possible time to restart.

Cayco acknowledged that, without volleyball games, the community's morale has been down. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/file

For now, there are already sports allowed by the IATF to resume. Swimming, tennis and table tennis are among such events, and Cayco revealed some of the recommendations he had in mind.

"For swimming, may recommendation ako na every other lane lang ang gagamitin. Tapos walang relay events, puro individual events. Tapos 'yung badminton, table tennis at lawn tennis, pwede 'yan pero walang change court. Kung sa'n ka magsimula, du'n ka na lang," he said.

FIBA recently sent out guidelines for a return to basketball. When asked whether FIVB would do the same, Cayco said he believes it is "irrelevant." He feels that the IATF will still have the last say.

"That is irrelevant, immaterial. Kasi kahit ano'ng sabihin nila, ang mangingibabaw pa din dyan ay IATF," he said.

Regarding the morale of the volleyball community during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said it is "down" just like other sports. However, the community is trying to take baby steps to prevent the sport from dying.

"It's down. Lahat naman hindi lang volleyball. Sumusulat tayo like the other NSAs na payagan tayo mag-resume under their set protocol kahit pakaunti-kaunti. Kasi kung hindi, tuluy-tuloy mamatay 'yung sport," Cayco said.

For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.