AS FAR as the Beach Volleyball Republic (BVR) is concerned, the “Decision” will come sooner than expected.
But the welfare of the players, coaches, referees and all the other stakeholders in beach volleyball will be the driving force if and when the BVR finally decides to turn pro.
BVR co-founder Bea Tan said everything is now being carefully studied and reviewed to find a win-win solution to the problems now besetting local sports due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Tan said they will make the decision to turn pro or not soon with only the best interest of the athletes on their minds.
“It’s been a sad year for sports for all of us. But we’re moving forward,” said Tan during the 22nd “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom last Thursday.
“One of the main considerations we’re discussing is how the BVR community — athletes, coaches, officials and stakeholders — will benefit from this plan to turn pro. Gusto namin aralin maigi kung ano ang mga benefits na makukuha dito,” added Tan during the weekly public service program sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and Games and Amusements Board (GAB).
“But even before the pandemic, we’re already in talks with GAB Chairman Baham Mitra (about turning pro). This pandemic only brought the conversation back on the table. Moving forward, there is an opening for back-to-play scenario and get the IATF approval thru GAB. We’re focusing on that so that our players can resume training and we can resume our tournaments,” added Tan,who co-founded the league with fellow beach volleyball superstars Charo Soriano, Gretchen Ho, Dzi Gervacio and File Cainglet in June, 2015.
“It is also an eye-opener in terms of what being a professional league can offer or can bring-to-the-table in terms of really going a step further towards growing the sport. We go back to really what we are here for, that is promoting the sport to get the grassroots up and coming and to make sure we develop and promote the sport nationwide,” explained Tan.
Tan, however, insisted they will not be rushed into organizing tournaments without considering all the health and safety protocols needed.
“As much as possible, make sure first that return-to-play guidelines would be in line and we don’t want to be half-hearted in terms of making sure everybody’s safe with regards to protocols and guidelines. Before we plan to have how many places we want to go to and how many tournaments we would have. We need to consider or make sure we’re aligned with all the governing bodies that will make this a success.”
A former Ateneo de Manila standout, Tan said the BVR is keeping in touch with their partner-hosts in different provinces for possible tournaments next year.
“For the past five years that we’ve been running the BVR we always focus on getting to a lot of places. We have already organized about 50 events, including exhibitions and tournaments. Every year, we do hold around 10-12 tournaments but this year, we have none. We really need to align with IATF for our return to play guidance.We just have to get back on track again.”
“We do have a lot of pending places that were supposed to have tournaments for this year na di natuloy. But we’re still in contact with most of the places that we’ve been to and every year, binabalikan namin.”
Once the vaccine is available and the green light to resume is given, the BVR is ready to rock and roll.
“We are considering our partners already. We have a good relationship in Ayala Resorts, and that’s one of the places we’re already considering,” said Tan.
“Ilocos Sur is also one of the places that we always been to because of the Sun Soaked Festival, and their local government there is very supportive. We’re also in talks with Dumaguete, Cadiz in Negros Occidental and Lianga in Surigao del Sur. We have a lot of BVR on Tour that we”ve been to, very sucessful and people there very happy to have us back.”
Tan also denied earlier reports that the BVR is being pressured to return to play.
“As what I mentioned earlier, we’re already considering turning pro. I guess it’s not much of having the pressure. I don’t think that in anything that ee do, we should be pressured cause we don’t think clearly that happpens,” explained Tan.
Asked about the possibility of returning to play without the fans, like the PBA and Chooks-To-Go 3×3 tournaments, Tan disagreed.
“We hope that we can open the tournaments to fans that we can create the scenario of physical distance properly because it is open air area compared to 3×3 of basketball that is supposed to be in a gym. Consider the scenarios and the venue of playing for beach volleyball because it is a non-contact sports and it is 2×2 game. We can consider a lot of it, and if it was my opinion, we can be open to fans, minimal as much as possible because the beach is open but it still has to be aligned with the IATF to be approved.”
On the plan to give student-athletes a special license to be able to play in the pro leagues, Tan said:
“I think it is still premature to say anything with regards to giving licenses to student-athletes because there is a definite gray area.”
“A big chunk of players that are competing are still in college. I am not in the position to say anything with regards to the state of college or even high school players having a pro license. I guess we have to consider also the other countries how they do it because were new to this professionalizing beach volleyball.”
Tan admitted there is formal decision, formal schedule yet.
“We have not announced anything yet. We are still trying to professionalize the league and learn what we can do as a body for beach volleyball. It’s up to us and we are taking our time to really think about how we can be as transparent as we can in considering this next step for the league.”
“But everyone, not just the founders, but also players and officials have a say. That’s why we call it “Republic.”
This was the second time than Tan graced the weekly public service program of TOPS..
Tan was joined in the session also shown on Facebook Live and YouTube by national women’s chess champion Jan Jodilyn Fronda, national tennis champion Marian Jade Capadocia and canoe kayak and dragonboat head coach Len Escollante.
With reports from Gab Ferreras