Filipino sports fans now have a reason to rejoice after government authorities overseeing the containment of the novel coronavirus in the country on Friday gave its approval for the clubs in the Philippines Football League and Philippine Basketball Association to begin actual training.
The Philippine Football Federation, the PFL organizer and the sport’s national governing body, welcomed the development and stepped right in to give the clubs a helping hand.
“I am happy to announce that the costs of this RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) tests will be borne by the PFF,” PFF general secretary Atty. Edwin Gastanes bared shortly after Malacañang made the announcement.
“Starting next week there will be mass testing of all the players and officials in the roster of the participating PFL clubs.”
Gastanes added that he and PFF president Mariano Araneta Jr. welcomed the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force in charge of managing the virus crisis to give the go-signal for clubs in the PFL and the PBA to start actual workouts.
“We thank both IATF and Games and Amusement, headed by chairman Abaraham Mitra, for their approval in ensuring that professional sports may push through despite the ongoing pandemic,” Araneta said in a statement posted on the official PFF website.
“The next step now is to ensure the health and safety of the players, as we prepare for the start of the PFL.”
Gastanes, who remains in his hometown of Puerto Princesa, Palawan, disclosed that included in the PFF health protocols, which the IATF adopted, was for players to undergo 30 days of intensive training before the league can kick off.
“This was included in our health guidelines we submitted to the IATF through the GAB,” the PFF official said. “You have to have match fitness and not just ordinary fitness so that you can prevent injury once these players resume play.”
He pointed out that there are separate protocols for training and competition, details of which were contained in the 26-page document titled “PFF Operations Protocols for the Philippines Football League.” This plan was submitted to the GAB last May.
The PFL clubs will have one common venue, the PFF national training field inside the San Lazaro Leisure Park complex in Carmona, Cavite, according to Gastanes.
Another measure that the IATF stressed, he said, was “there will be no use of the locker rooms by the clubs during training to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” while training sessions will be limited to 10 people, with intervals of 30 minutes each.
Once the PFL is allowed to begin, Gastanes said, “we will enforce strict guidelines for the league participants.”
“Only a maximum of 68 people will be allowed inside the PFF national training center. This will be limited to club players and staff, referees and technical officials and other personnel involved in the matches,” he said.
Matches will be played without spectators and media will also be barred inside the training center, Gastanes said, adding that the PFL games, however, will be aired through live video streaming.
“Sports has always served as the inspiration of our youth, and hopefully once the PFL kicks off, they can watch our games and have something to look forward to,” the PFF gen-sec said.
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