By Gab Ferreras, contributing writer
For most athletes and teams, their health & safety is definitely an upmost concern. The Philippine Handball Federation remains committed to impose health & safety standards for their athletes in time of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
While their face-to-face grassroots programs remains on hold, the federation is concentrating more on the national team preparing for international tourneys.
In the Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam, PHF has decided to only send the Men's Handball Team, who won the bronze medal in the 2019 edition held in Subic, based on their performances.
But the pandemic hampered their plans, sort of. They were scheduled to travel to Ilocos Norte for their training bubble last July, but got shelved due to the postponement of the Games. Instead, the team is currently doing physical conditioning and training via virtual platform.
"Two months ago, nagkaroon po kami ng request ng PSC to train in Ilocos for the Vietnam SEAG, ang problema po di natuloy ang SEA Games (this year) kaya kami hampered po ang training para sa pagdepensa ng bronze medal finish noong 2019 sa Subic.", Philippine Handball Federation secretary general Ernesto "Jay" Adalem said during the weekly TOPS Usapang Sports on Air forum aired via Sports On Air's facebook page and YouTube channel.
Adalem personally thanked the sports community for giving a thumbs up mark in the hosting of SEA Games' beach handball competitions last December 2019. He also explain why they did not push through with the training bubble.
"Medyo nag-titake off na kami noong SEA Games dahil nakita ng mga kababayan natin na maganda ang larong Handball, lalo na ang beach handball, talagang nag-enjoy lahat ng mga taga-Subic, nakita pala na meron tayong pagasa sa ating sports. Kaya sa amin, ang paghahanda namin, sa panguuna ni Coach Jana Franquelli, very passionate at ultimo ang pondo di niya iniisip yan, para lang maisakatupran niya yung mga players, ang problema namin talaga, na-hampered ang participation sa SEA Games dahil yun ang tinitingnan namin ngayon sa Vietnam, nag-request pa kami ng pondo ng PSC, medyo nalakihan sila actually sa mga requests namin, although maliit na ang request, pero sa totoo lang, talagang mahal kung tutuusin dahil pupunta ka sa isang lugar na malayo tapos maghohotel lang. Umaasa kami na ang pandemya ito ma-control at ma-loosen up sana ang protocols na ipapatupad na ipapatupad para sa atleta.", Adalem continued.
PHF hopes that their full training will be pushing through, once NCR reverts back to the General Community Quarantine status.
In one of earlier interviews with TOPS, Assistant Coach Luz Pacubas, who represented Franquelli at the time, expressed their optimism that the country's handball players will get another podium finish in the Vietnam edition.