Basketball and football teams have been given the go signal by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to resume training, a development local sports enthusiasts are lauding.
The IATF approved the recommendation from the Philippine Sports Commission and the Games and Amusement Board (GAB), allowing basketball and football teams to resume practice and conditioning exercises with certain conditions in place.
However, it remains to be seen if actual league play or competitions will follow. The only thing that the IATF decision covered is that teams can now start getting their players back into shape.
It will be recalled that back in May, national training director of Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas Inc. (LVPI) Peter Cayco mentioned how it would take three months for an athlete to recall his old form. Hence, if all goes well and COVID-19 does not get worse, some may expect leagues to try and resume as early as October. Unfortunately, there is still one important requisite missing -- a COVID-19 vaccine.
Speaking via Zoom conference call at TOPS Usapang Sports a day before the IATF announcement was made, PSC officer-in-charge Ramon Fernandez said he believes that a vaccine is essential in seeing sports reverting to normal.
“Let’s start first with vaccination. If there is a vaccine, two or three months would be more than enough to get athletes back in shape. Right now, they are training on their own. I’ll start counting if there is a vaccine available. But until there is one, I think it will be difficult,” Fernandez said.
Aside from that, he was asked whether to expect any changes to athlete performances due to the pandemic.
“Let us take the case of karatedo. Jaime Lim, Junna Tsukii and two other guys in the karate team are young. I think that if they can qualify for the Olympics, they have a good chance. The ones they would be facing are much older than them. So if they work hard and continue to improve, it will be an advantage to the younger athletes. That’s the reality of sports,” Fernandez said.
But looking at a whole, Fernandez said there will be changes, both good and bad.
“Definitely may magbabago. May gaganda, may mas gagaling because they have more training. Like in the case of karatedo, naka four sessions na sila sa virtual. President Ricky Lim was able to invite several world-class coaches and athletes to give tips. So advantage talaga sa mga bata. Yung may mga edad na, maapektuhan din sila,” he said.
Also present during the meeting was Stephen Fernandez, head of grassroots development of the Philippine Taekwondo Association, the sport’s national governing body. He acknowledged that Filipino jins will also end up rusty once they get the chance to compete again, particularly national players in sparring.
“Our athletes, they will feel a certain degree of rust when they get back to competition. Mga pambato natin, they are sparring athletes, something they cannot do now. The best they can do now is conditioning,” Fernandez said.
The former Olympian stressed that before COVID-19, national players were used to sparring regularly. Right now, all they can do is hope that someday they can do it again.
“For now, what is important is that they remain motivated on the goal ahead, which is to qualify and perform for the country, give pa din their best despite this (pandemic). It is really a test of character. It will be hard but not impossible for them to recall their old form and level of conditioning,” he explained.
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