Football: As teams resume training, PFL eyes October start to season

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 02 2020 02:39 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- Teams of the Philippines Football League (PFL) returned to the pitch on Wednesday, with the league hoping for an incident-free resumption that will allow them to push through with their fourth season. 

Kaya FC, Stallion Laguna and United City FC were scheduled to practice at the PFF National Training Center in Carmona Wednesday, with players looking to regain their fitness after several months of inactivity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

PFL officials have asked teams to strictly observe the health and safety protocols, as their compliance will be crucial to the league's appeal to the government to approve a fourth season.

"We will for the league to resume 30 days from tomorrow," Philippine Football Federation (PFF) President Mariano "Nonong" Araneta said during the PSA Forum on Tuesday.

"After 20 days of training, we have to write GAB (Games and Amusements Board) and IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force). If everything goes well during training, we have to explain it to them, that everything went well, this is the situation," he added.

"And, if possible, we'll be allowed to resume the league itself, the actual games."

PFL commissioner Coco Torre plans to write to the IATF by the second week of September. The agency's response, he said, will depend on the success of the teams' training in Carmona.

As per the league's protocols, along with the guidelines put forth in the joint administrative order on the conduct of sports, only five players can practice in one area at a time. All PFL teams are training at the National Training Center, which has three pitches available.

"I hope zero infections sa training, para ma-approve ang application to kick off the league," said Torre. 

If their plans push through and the league starts in October, then Torre believes that they can hold a traditional tournament with a double round robin format.

"But the further we push toward the end of the year, we might have to reassess and amend the competition format," he added, noting that a single round robin format is also on the table.

Six teams are competing in the PFL's fourth season -- United City FC (formerly known as Ceres Negros FC), Kaya FC, Stallion Laguna, Mendiola, newly-approved club Maharlika FC, and the Azkals Developmental Team.