Schools, leagues cope with the times
Rico Navarro (The Freeman) - April 3, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Schools and leagues are coping with both internal and external factors that are unprecedented and thus call for careful review and action.

In an online gathering of sports officials via zoom, various school and league officials bared their experiences in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the first concerns were how to take care of players especially those who live far away from their homes.

Oliver Almadro, head coach of the Ateneo de Manila Lady Eagles, said he didn’t hesitate to ask his players to go home, saying that they were better in the comforts of their families.

“As a father myself, I felt the best place for them was with their families and not here in the dorm. They’re safer and more comfortable when at home,” he said. “This is no longer about volleyball,” he added.

For those who couldn’t go home, Jose Rizal University Athletic Director Paul Supan bared that school officials and coaches have to stand as the second parents of their players.

“We have to keep them company, send them food, send them their allowances, but also make sure that they stay in the dorm,” Supan shared.

UST and Enderun College women’s basketball coach Haydee Ong said that she has been in touch with her players who didn’t go home by talking to them daily, following up on their day-to-day activities, especially the emotional side, noting that lady athletes need that motherly attention.

“The athletes look up to us as their parents here in Manila and we must do our part,” she said.

A common concern shared by all was how to take care of their coaches. Since most coaches in the sports industry are consultants on contracts, they are bound to lose their income since practice and tournaments have been cancelled.

Moreover, the school summer clinics where coaches also earn extra income are already cancelled.

But UAAP Executive Director Rebo Saguisag said we find ourselves in extraordinary circumstances, and called for a win-win situation. “I’m sure a win-win situation can be worked out given the circumstances.”

Another major concern tackled was the status of the ongoing tournaments for the second semester of the schoolyear. The big question was if these would be cancelled outright or merely postponed to a later date, albeit under a different format.

Almadro drew caution that with all teams sending their players home, it will be difficult to play with limited time for practice and to get back into game shape, a situation that might result into injuries.

And should the various competitions be cancelled, another concern that popped up is whether or not athletes on their last playing year will be given an extra year of eligibility next season.

“This is something that must be reviewed, similar to what the US NCAA did for their seniors,” Supan said.

According to lead host Noli Ayo of Ateneo de Davao, the online forum is a first of its kind, with the goal of promoting an atmosphere of “learning never stops for coaches.”

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