THE Philippines Football League (PFL) returns for some activities on Wednesday looking for the cooperation of all member teams with the end view of finally starting the league’s long-delayed new season.
After months of angling and fulfilling requirements set by the government amid the coronavirus pandemic, the PFL gets to see teams take the pitch for training once again.
The workouts will be held at the Philippine Football Federation Training Center in Carmona, Cavite, and will be conducted under strict health and safety guidelines in accordance with the Joint Administrative Order (JAO) issued by pertinent government agencies.
The JAO came from the Games and Amusements Board, Department of Health and the Philippine Sports Commission and contains the implementing guidelines governing the conduct of professional and nonprofessional sports training while the country is under community quarantine brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
As per the guidelines, only individuals who tested negative for COVID-19 will be allowed to resume training; only a maximum of 10 persons will be allowed to attend team training; after the set of 10 persons finish their training session, a 30-minute gap will be observed before another set of 10 persons may train; and inter-zonal travel is strictly prohibited.
Now being able to put in some activities after months of waiting, officials of the PFL and Philippine Football Federation (PFF), the body overseeing the conduct of the league, said they are happy with the development but were quick to say that for the return to activities to succeed full cooperation of all concerned is needed.
“Important right now is compliance. We are dealing with teams and individuals here. The protocols we have are designed to maximize health and safety, and minimize the spread of the coronavirus,” said PFL Commissioner Coco Torre at Tuesday’s online Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum.
Adding, “And in fact, it was not only us who made these but we also had a lot of references like the World Health Organization, DoH and the other leagues all over the world. The protocols are already set in place and it’s all about the teams cooperating.”
Mr. Torre said for the first day of training, United City Football Club (formerly Ceres-Negros FC), Kaya FC-Iloilo and Stallion Laguna FC are set to take the field.
The two remaining teams — Azkals Development Team and Mendiola Football Club 1991 — would follow suit within the week.
Mr. Torre, along with PFF President Mariano Araneta, who was also a guest at the PSA Forum, shared that they are hopeful the start of the training would lead to the new season of the PFL, originally set for March, finally kicking off.
The PFL is looking to begin the 2020 season after a month possibly in a “bubble” setting in the PFF Training Center in Carmona, where the teams will stay for the duration of the tournament.
“The bubble is just a proposal for now and is not yet set in stone. A bubble setup is costly because a lot of individuals are involved for each football team. It could also be counterproductive since it involves a lot of people in one area that if one gets the virus, others may also get it. So, these are the things we are looking at,” said Mr. Torre.
For Mr. Araneta, how the PFL season goes depends on how the training pans out.
“We will see first how the training goes and then we will write to the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) if we could start the season,” said the PFF president.
For the new season, apart from the five official teams, the PFL is expecting to add another one, Maharlika FC, to the fold.
Maharlika FC, founded by former Azkals member Anton Del Rosario, is in the process of getting its license approved by the PFF. Once it receives the go-ahead it will be part of the six-team PFL field. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo