July 10, 2021 People's Journal 548 views

PVL draws 10 teams, kicks off in Ilocos Norte

For all the multiple resets, training bubble woes and other issues, including the spike of Covid-19 cases, the Premier Volleyball League finally unveils its Open Conference on July 17 in Ilocos Norte with 10 teams all set to serve their respective title drives for bragging rights as champion of the country’s first-ever professional volley league.

This after the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte approved the conduct of the five-week bubble tournament at the PCV Socio-Civic Cultural Center in Bacarra with the Games and Amusements Board, which regulates and supervises pro sports, issuing licenses to the league, the teams and their respective players.

“The Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN) has stepped up our ‘sports tourism’ potential by hosting training bubbles of various national sports teams to aid in the stable recovery of our province. In line with this, we are pleased to inform you that your request to conduct the Open Conference of the PVL from July 17 to Aug. 20, 2021, under an Athletic Bubble Type Training and Competition, is approved,” Ilocos Norte Gov. Matthew Manotoc said in a letter to organizing Sports Vision Management Group Inc. president Ricky Palou last Thursday.

“We are elated that we will be able to start the first professional season of the league,” said Palou.

He later announced the withdrawal of F2 Logistics from the inaugurals due to a spate of player injuries.

“We are saddened by F2 Logistics’ withdrawal,” said Palou. “However, we understand that health and well-being of the athletes come first. We just need to be patient and wait until the next conference to see them show our volleyball enthusiasts their high-level brand of game.”

But the depth of the field remains as talent-laden and formidable as ever with league mainstays Creamline, Petro Gazz, Perlas, Choco Mucho and Bali Pure, guest squad Philippine Army, and transferees Cignal, PLDT, Sta. Lucia and Chery Tiggo bannering the 10-team cast.

1st District Ilocos Norte Rep. Ria Fariñas, who first offered the province to host the launch of the pro league and worked with Manotoc to help facilitate the staging of the event, and GAB chairman Baham Mitra, one of those who persuaded the PVL to turn pro, both expressed their full support to the holding of the bubble tournament.

The PVL games will be available on One Sports, Cignal, Smart Gigafest, and the league’s official website PVL.ph.

To reach their desired form and conditions, teams set up their respective bubble training camps in various provinces. PLDT trained in Tagaytay, Perlas geared up for the inaugurals in Baguio, Cignal HD and F2 Logistics stepped up their buildup in Batangas, and BaliPure set up its camp in San Fernando, Pampanga.

Meanwhile, the health and safety protocols of the league also received approval from the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force.

“Moreover, we also convey our approval on your ‘Safety and Health Guidelines’ that will be supplemental to the ‘PVL Omnibus Guidelines’ to be issued by our Task Force Salun-at (Health),” added Manotoc.

“We are grateful to Gov. (Matthew) Manotoc and Rep. (Ria) Fariñas for hosting us, and to the GAB, headed by chairman Mitra, for licensing us,” added Palou.

‘We congratulate SVMGI for being the first professional league for volleyball in the Philippines. The safe resumption of the conduct of competitive sports tournaments in the country is a direct result of your praiseworthy efforts and for that, we applaud you,” said Manotoc.

The SVMGI, which revived the once dormant sport in 2004 and gave it a mainstream appeal the last decade or so, actually looked at a dozen-team cast made up of teams with varying strengths and characters and an April return from a long hiatus due to pandemic.

But the surge of coronavirus infections in the NCR Plus forced the organizers to move it to May at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna before re-setting it again to June which was later shelved in line with the government’s strict quarantine measures.