A few weeks ago, I wrote a column wishing for unity in Philippine volleyball—both at the national sports association and club levels.
I was referring to the warring Philippine Volleyball Federation and the Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas Inc., and the Premier Volleyball League and the Philippine Superliga at the club level.
But what happened?
The news that came out instead was that the PVL group of Ricky Palou decided to make its league a professional one and that they will already start working out the details of the transition. Believe me, there will be a thousand and one things that need to be addressed for this decision to become a reality by next year.
Salaries at minimum and maximum, tax angles, player drafting, operating under government supervision as a professional league—these are just some of the things that need to be ironed out.
I do know for a fact that the established superstars, not only of the PVL but also of the PSL, and there are several of them, receive salaries or allowances, depending on how the clubs define them in the six-figure ranges.
And it is a fact, too, that there are some local players like Alyssa Valdez, Jaja Santiago, and her sister Dindin Santiago-Manabat, who have played as imports in leagues in Taiwan and Thailand—would they fall then automatically as professionals? Maybe, I do not know.
For sure, that is one matter that has to be clarified, though in the case of the PVL, it will be resolved naturally when the league turns professional.
In the past, when my good friend Fritz Gaston, who himself has two volleyball-playing daughters, Ponggay and Babang, former Ateneo de Manila collegiate players, told me that the Games and Amusement Board was in communication with both leagues to convince them to turn professional.
This was the time Fritz was still one of the GAB Commissioners a few years ago, but then both leagues wanted to remain amateur. What made the PVL change its stand on the matter, I am not privy to.
On the other hand, and I got this from a very reliable source, that the PSL is taking a different position from the PVL. The Superliga wants to remain an amateur league and maintain its position as a breeding ground for future national teams.
Clarifying this, the source said the league believes that accepting collegiate players and allowing them to play alongside seasoned veterans will help develop their playing skills, which is unarguable because players can only get better when they play with and against better players.
Just look at how UAAP and NCAA female players have blossomed after seeing regular action in both leagues.
With the PVL, the plan is to have a separate collegiate cup for those still in school. So you see, these two leagues are taking opposite directions on the matter, which again makes unifying them more difficult in the future.
So the bottom line then is that unity at the club level is not yet meant to be.