MANILA, Philippines -- Premier Volleyball League (PVL) president Ricky Palou is suggesting a year-long training program for the national volleyball team to prepare them for international tournaments.
Virtually every player in the national team pool now competes in the PVL, after the transfer of several Philippine Superliga (PSL) squads into the professional league earlier this month.
With this, Palou expects a smoother relationship with the national volleyball federation and the national team, after tensions in recent years that prevented players from making a full participation in the national team.
"We're suggesting that the national team pool practice all year round, even if there's a PVL tournament ongoing," Palou said during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.
"You know, a lot of these teams, they practice twice a day, one in the morning and one in the evening. I guess it's a matter of talking to the teams and talking to the Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF)," he added.
"Maybe we can come up with a schedule that the national team practices in the mornings or in the evenings, and the club teams practice vice versa, so that the teams should be able to train all year round. The players should be able to train all year round."
This will be music to the ears of the national team players, many of whom have long advocated for a unified league. Skipper Aby Maraño, in an interview with ABS-CBN News, said that with all players under one roof, it will be easy to make arrangements with their management for their national team duties.
"Kung may laro, siyempre nahihirapan din magpaalam sa mother team," she recalled. "So ngayon, given na we have one league, mas madali nang mag-adjust, 'di ba. Sabihin natin na makiusap si national team na, wait lang po, ipu-pull out natin ang players. At least, isang liga lang 'yung pagpu-pull out-an, at hindi nagkakabanggaan ng schedules."
Aside from year-round training, Palou also suggests that the national team should have at least a month of "dedicated" training before a major competition, such as the upcoming Southeast Asian Games in November.
This training will be full time, with "no distractions," according to Palou.
"We'd like to end our tournament and give the national team enough time for at least, a minimum of one month to train on their own. So that's what we're looking at right now," he said.
In line with this, the PVL plans to align their calendar with the FIVB in the future in order to give the national team players the freedom to play in international tournaments.
"That has always been our intention," said Palou. "We (are) working with the PNVF so that we can come up with a good team."