MANILA, Philippines – Philippine football took a step forward as the Inter-Agency Task Force recently gave professional teams the green light to resume training.
But the players will also experience a "new normal" in practices as the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) will be hands-on in overseeing training in a centralized venue at the PFF training center in Carmona.
The sport has gotten a headstart in bringing back the game as the national federation prepares to create a "bubble" in Carmona that will eventually lead to the Philippines Football League's (PFL) fourth season opening.
All PFL clubs' athletes and staff, as well as the PFF staff, must undergo a mandatory RT-PCR/swab test at the PFF House of Football in Pasig City.
"This is a big step for us in resuming the PFL," said PFL commissioner Coco Torre. "(The testing) is a procedural requirement for clubs to return to training. Once they’ve been tested negative, then they can immediately train."
There is no date yet on when the clubs can proceed to Carmona as the national federation is currently waiting for the test results of 155 players, officials, and staff.
All club members should be transported individually to-and-from the training pitch, preferably in their own and respective vehicles, but if the teams will use their own buses or vans, it should not exceed 50% of its capacity.
Each person will sit in every other row and wear face masks inside the vehicles.
The PFF training center will provide all its 3 pitches – the main field and two practice areas – for the use of each club.
The training center's security will control the flow of people and perform temperature checks on those entering the venue.
PFF will make hand disinfectants readily available at entrances and common areas, while sanitation mats will be placed at all entrances and exits. Regular surface disinfection must also be done before a team’s arrival at the venue.
While everyone is required to wear face masks and bring their own water bottles inside the venue, PFF will also provide masks and other medical equipment.
Each team can only have a maximum of 10 persons per training session, while observing proper physical distancing.
Scrimmages can be done among the 10 players in training, but close-contact drills such as tackling and set pieces are not allowed.
Physical exercises will be conducted in groups of 5, while physical therapy will only be done in designated areas.
The PFF will continue to follow the Philippine Sports Commission's (PSC) omnibus guidelines for the Return of Sport for normal training and scrimmages to be done only when a vaccine is available.
In terms of hygienic practices, players will be required to label and disinfect their personalized water bottles and they are not allowed to share their towelettes.
All training equipment such as cones, ladders and balls must be stored properly and disinfected before and after each use.
There will be no access to the locker rooms and dressing rooms and only a maximum of two people will be allowed inside the toilet areas. – Rappler.com
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.