MANILA, Philippines -- The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the athletic programs of schools all over the country, and NCAA teams were not spared from cost-cutting measures.
It was reported last year that Colegio de San Juan de Letran, Arellano University, Lyceum of the Philippines University and University of Perpetual Help had to downsize their athletic departments.
"Pagdating sa cost-cutting, alam ho natin na 'yung No. 1 candidate sa slashing ng budget ay 'yung sports program," said Letran athletic director Fr. Vic Calvo, also the chairman of the NCAA Management Committee.
"So maraming mga sports teams ang nawalan ng scholarship, nawalan ng coaches, nawalan ng sweldo," he said.
At the same time, Calvo also stressed that the budget cuts to athletic departments were unavoidable.
"No choice kasi," he said. "For the organization to survive, it has to do some drastic measures. So ganoon din 'yung ginawa ng schools…. It's for the survival of the institution."
"Kasi maibabalik din natin 'to eh. 'Pag 'yung institution hindi nag-survive, mahirap ng ibalik talaga 'yan," he added.
Despite the budget cuts as well as the other hardships brought about by the pandemic, the NCAA is still pushing through with its 96th season, albeit in a much smaller scale. They open on June 13 and will hold online chess and taekwondo events.
Calvo is hopeful, however, that the league can back into its full swing by the time its 100th season rolls around.
"Remember, we're preparing for the 100 years of the NCAA," Calvo said during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum this week. "So in the long term, we would like to bring the teams na kumpleto, by 100 years."
It won't be an easy or a quick process, Calvo admitted. Even if the schools managed to maintain their mandatory sports -- basketball, volleyball, athletics and swimming -- it will take time for them to build up their other sports programs.
"Mahirap maibalik 'yun eh. 'Pag nagbuwag ka ng team, it will take three years, maybe two to three years to become competitive," he said. "Kung ibalik mo 'yan, we have to start from zero."
"So, dahan-dahan," he added. "Sana, by 100, magiging back to all sports."
"That's what I see na mangyayari in the next years sa new normal na ito. Hopefully, I'm praying na sa 100 years, kumpleto ulit, mababalik 'yung before na kung ano 'yung competition sa NCAA."
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