SAN Beda brass is hopeful that with the resumption of non-professional leagues like the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) and the Philippine Superliga (PSL) beach volleyball tournament in Subic, collegiate sports will soon be given the green light to finally return to action, at least for its team practices.
"I am happy that the MPBL was given the go-signal to finish their season. It is my fervent hope that the IATF will also allow the resumption of college team sports training," said Red Lions coach Boyet Fernandez.
San Beda team manager Jude Roque added, "I also hope that with the resumption of the MPBL games, which is a non-pro league, college basketball can also be given the same treatment by the IATF."
The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for Emerging Infectious Diseases has yet to allow face-to-face classes, preventing collegiate teams from training for their respective seasons.
The Department of Health (DOH), however, has issued a circular allowing non-professional leagues, which are not covered by the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), to hold competitions as per the approval of the respective local government units (LGUs), all while still observing the government-mandated health guidelines.
Colleges, like national teams, are under the jurisdiction of the PSC, and they will still need a go signal from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) before they can all return to camp in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The San Beda brass, however, argued that it shouldn't have to be immediate, with teams willing to have by-batch trainings and only a limited number of people allowed inside their practice gyms.
"We can start with just small group training and then slowly progress. We will surely comply with strict protocols," said Roque.
Fernandez furthered, "It's been a year now since we last gathered for San Beda team training. Since then, we've training individually in our homes, here in Manila and in the provinces. With that, we learned how to be more vigilant and follow health protocols during those months we are training individually."
The brains behind the Red Lions' success admitted that they're fully aware of the rising COVID-19 cases in the country, but the arrival of vaccines have boosted their confidence that their hopeful return is sooner rather than later.
"I am also aware that as of today, there is a rise of COVID-19 infections in our country, but with the vaccines arriving and now been administered, I am sure we are on the way to recovery," said Fernandez, a five-time NCAA champion coach.
"I just hope and pray, in the coming days or months, that the IATF will give the green light to the proposed training guidelines on a bubble set-up by the CHED for college sports training to resume. I believe this is safer for our student athletes as we are able to monitor them and also ensure that the training facilities are well sanitized as opposed to them looking for venues on their own for individual skills training."
The NCAA has pencilled its Season 96, to be hosted by Letran, to begin in the second quarter of 2021.