THE University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) welcomed the approval of the return of training of collegiate student-athletes and affirmed its commitment to helping ensure the resumption’s success.

In a statement, the UAAP said it acknowledges the decision of the Commission of Higher Education (CHEd) to allow collegiate training back as recommended by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

The league also said it would be cooperating with the agency in the initiative, particularly in being an active member of the technical working group that would craft the guidelines for the return to training with health and safety a top priority.

“The UAAP is committed to helping with this initiative as one of the stakeholders of collegiate sports in the country. We will be presenting our point of view as an athletic association, as well as those of our individual member schools responsible for the care of student-athletes. We will also consider all possible implications as our priority remains the health and safety of student-athletes,” said the UAAP in its statement.

On Monday, through a press teleconference, the CHEd said it had decided to allow the conduct of training of student-athletes in areas with relaxed community quarantine setups.

In allowing the return to training, CHEd Chairman J. Prospero E. De Vera III said they considered the importance of the “mental and physical health” of student-athletes during this time of the pandemic.

The CHEd chief said they will be forming a technical working group to craft the set of guidelines to be followed.

To be included in the working group are officials of the Philippine Sports Commission and Games and Amusements Board and representatives from collegiate leagues.

Mr. De Vera said coming up with the set of guidelines will be a tough task because, among others, of the large number of student-athletes throughout the country and the sports disciplines involved, but they are determined to have a concrete one to ensure the success of the return of training activities. 

“We are talking to different people to come up with the right process to go about it,” said the CHEd chairman.

They expect to have the guidelines in two to three weeks.

Mr. De Vera, however, clarified that no training should be conducted until the CHEd guidelines are out, and face-to-face classes are still not allowed despite the nod for the resumption of training for student-athletes.

He, too, said exemptions will be given to student-athletes below 21 years old for them to train.

Representing the UAAP in the technical working group are league Executive Director Rebo Saguisag and UAAP Committee Chairman on Sports and Rules Dean Francis Diaz from the University of the Philippines.

Also part of the group is Far Eastern University Athletics Director Mark Molina, who is a member of the Committee on Sports and Rules. – Michael Angelo S. Murillo