Despite minor concerns along the way, the pro volley launch proved successful in terms of managing its staging in the midst of the Covid-19 dilemma with Chery Tiggo earning the distinction as the first champion of the Premier Volleyball League under professional setup.
“With a pandemic-friendly environment, all our hard work that has been invested has paid off,” said Ricky Palou, president of Sports Vision, organizer of the PVL, which turned professional in late 2020 on the premise it has enough women players to make the move and take the sport to new heights.
But it took a lot of effort to making the turnaround a reality with Sports Vision citing the help and cooperation of Ilocos Norte, which offered to host the launch in a “bubble” setup and under league guidelines/restrictions in consonance with such measures from the LGU, being health, well-being and safety of each player and delegation the top priority.
“We’re grateful to Gov. (Matthew) Manotoc and Games and Amusements Board chairman Baham Mitra for their inspiration and encouragement,” said Palou, adding that the GAB chair, who also watched some of the games, even offered to assist and went out of his way to talk to the agencies concerned to help ensure the smooth conduct of the event.
Palou also commended the support of Ilocos Norte First District Rep. Ria Christina Fariñas and Fritzie Ann Kaye Gapasin, Mayor of Bacarra, which took over the hosting of the five-week tournament at the PCV Socio-Civic and Cultural Center.
The PVL’s first pro tournament held in a highly competitive but friendly environment, according to Palou, also encapsulated the need for an outlet for athletes during the global health crisis and at the same proved that pro events can resume under safely and controlled conditions.
Palou also praised Cignal TV Inc. and TV5 Network, headed by president/CEO Robert Galang and vice president for Channels and Content Siena Olaso, for providing the link between the tournament and the fans in “closed-door” setup via live broadcast of the games on One Sports+ on Cignal TV’s multiple on-air and digital platforms.
Cignal TV, in fact, has said it is crafting a solid plan for the league throughout their partnership run for the next three years.
Palou mostly acknowledged the cooperation of the 10 teams, led by Chery Tiggo, Creamline, Petro Gazz, Choco Mucho, Sta. Lucia, Black Mamba Army, PLDT Home Fibr. BaliPure, Perlas and Cignal HD, which all committed themselves for the next conference, as well as the fans, whose absence in live games were sorely missed by the players, who draw inspiration and energy from them.
Though they can’t be in attendance, fans stayed glued on TV and other platforms during the course of the event and the league boomed and bloomed in the same stretch of the Olympic Games’ staging.
“We’re so relieved to have successfully launched the inaugurals despite the challenges during this pandemic,” said Palou. “This will only push us to work harder to guarantee the continued success of this unified pro league in the years to come.”