Collegiate sports training may start soon, says CHEd

CHEd Chairman J. Prospero E. De Vera III during Monday’s press teleconference on the resumption of collegiate sports training. — MIKE MURILLO

TRAINING for collegiate student-athletes may start soon amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) said in a press teleconference on Monday.

After thorough discussions with other government agencies tasked to oversee the return of sports activities in the country, the CHEd had decided to allow the conduct of training of student athletes but under strict health and safety protocols, the guidelines of which the commission hopes to put out in the next two to three weeks.

The CHEd is acting on the recommendation by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), which, as announced by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, has allowed the resumption of collegiate training in areas under general community quarantine and modified general community quarantine.

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.

To come up with the appropriate training guidelines, the CHEd is setting up a technical working group, which will include officials of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and Games and Amusements Board and representatives from collegiate leagues.

Mr. De Vera admitted that coming up with the guidelines would not be easy but stressed the need to have a concrete one to ensure the success of the return of training activities.

“Producing the guidelines will not be easy. For one, we are talking about a large group of student-athletes throughout the country. And second, there are a lot of sports disciplines involved. But we are talking to different people to come up with the right process to go about it,” said the CHEd chairman.

Mr. De Vera went on to clarify some key points, namely, no training should be conducted until the CHEd guidelines are out, covering all sports; exemptions will be given to student-athletes below 21 years old for them to train; and face-to-face classes are still not allowed despite the nod for the resumption of training for student-athletes.

Meanwhile, the CHEd also shared updates during the press teleconference on the alleged quarantine violations of the men’s basketball team of the University of Santo Tomas (UST)and the women’s volleyball team of National University (NU).

Mr. De Vera said they have concluded their fact-finding report on alleged violations of IATF and CHEd advisories of said schools and had submitted it to the IATF for proper action.

The CHEd chief said they are letting the IATF come up with its own decision on the matter, but as far as the violations of CHEd advisories are concerned, the agency will be sending show-cause orders to UST and NU demanding them to explain why sanctions should not be imposed on them.

The UST Growling Tigers are currently in hot water for allegedly violating government health and safety protocols when they held a training in Sorsogon beginning in June, when it was still prohibited, as part of their preparation for UAAP Season 83 and other tournaments.

The NU Lady Bulldogs were also probed after reportedly breaking protocols when they gathered to train in a sports facility in Laguna.

Mr. De Vera said they will wait for the response to their show-cause order before deciding on sanctions.

“It is too early to conclude because what has been completed is just the fact-finding. We will just wait for their response,” he said.

Also present at Monday’s teleconference were Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, Philippine Sports Commission Chairman William Ramirez, Games and Amusements Board Chairman Baham Mitra, and PSC Training Director Marc Velaso.

Representatives from the Philippine Basketball Association, Chooks-to-Go 3×3 Pilipinas and Philippines Football League were also on hand to share some of the procedures they have been implementing since returning to training two weeks ago. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo

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