HAVING successfully survived a season greatly disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic last year, the Philippines Football League (PFL) is now gearing up to get back into action, conditions permitting, by April.

In the league’s recent virtual season kickoff, it was announced that the 2021 season of the PFL is targeted to start in the second quarter of the year with the Copa Paulino Alcantara — the league’s Cup competition.

This is to allow the teams to ease their way back into the competition and give them and the players flexibility to focus as well on several international tournaments also lined up for the year like the American Football Conference (AFC) Champions League, AFC Cup, and the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.

It is still being determined if just like season, the tournament will be conducted in a “bubble” setting since the coronavirus is still an ongoing concern.

But the league said it is committed to bringing the games, powered by Qatar Airways, to the fans despite the challenging situation.

For the competing PFL teams, the planned early start of the season is welcome news as it will allow them to be on the field more and play the game.

“We’re all one here in wanting to play sooner rather than later,” said Kaya FC-Iloilo general manager Paul Tolentino. “The right setup must be agreed by all the stakeholders and having the Cup will allow us more preparation and active competition.”

The teams have also decided to conduct joint tryouts in the coming weeks, gathering aspiring players together and for them to scout for fresh talent.

It is also hoped that through the tryouts, the league will be afforded the opportunity to be received better by more fans and stakeholders.

Last season proved to be a tough one for the PFL, with the league only managing to stage one tournament, done in a bubble setting at the Philippine Football Federation National Training Center in Carmona, Cavite, and participants adhering to strict health and safety protocols to guard against the spread of the coronavirus.

Official home of the team was the Seda Hotel Nuvali in Santa Rosa, Laguna.

Six teams competed in the bubble, namely, eventual champion United City Football Club (formerly Ceres-Negros FC), Kaya, Azkals Development Team, Maharlika Manila FC, Stallion Laguna FC, and Mendiola FC 1991.

The PFL is hoping to attract more teams to join the league this year. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo