By Gab Ferreras, contributing writer
Like other national athletes and teams, the Philippine National Ice Hockey Team faced a big challenge in their training program as their ice rinks, which were used as training venue, shutted their doors since the start of the numerous quarantine restrictions due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
But the pandemic didn't stop them from training and conditioning while at their homes as they are waiting for the go signal for the reopening of the rinks in due time,
"In terms of our sport, we cannot do (full-time) training because the rinks were currently closed, we just make due with what we can during this trying times, we trying to stay in shape and we have to prioritize our safety and health in time to when we reopen, we don't really need to adjust that much and were still in good physical condition.", Hockey Philippines Executive Vice President Francois Gautier disclosed during the People, Sports, Conversations vodcast of the Philippine Sports Commission.
Gautier, likewise shared the recent updates on the NSA's programs and the off-ice training of the PH ice hockey teams during the pandemic, and one of their goals is to qualify for the Winter Olympics in the near future. He also expressed their team's readiness by getting in tip top shape in case that their training is in full swing once ice rinks are reopen.
"We don't have a big event like the Olympics, were on a long road ahead to qualify for the Olympics, iba kasi ang qualifications for Ice Hockey in the (Winter) Olympics, medyo mas madugo ang road since kakasimula lang namin sa World Championships at na-cancel pa dahil sa pandemic. Were still at the starting point. During the pandemic, its mostly off-ice (training), we encourage especially that the national athletes, not just those that played before but also those who were vie their spots to go to Bishkek last March 2020, basically anybody that are eligible to the national pools, they had their workouts, we ask them to submit their training videos & programs nila as part of their attendance also to the PSC every week, so that we can keep track also to what when doing to stay in shape.", Gautier said.
The Philippines was supposed to play in the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division IV in Bishkek, Kyrgysztan last March 3-5, 2020 but it was rescheduled to March next year.
Ice hockey has been introduced in the country in the early 90s, and became more popular when the SM opened the Olympic-standard ice rink in Mall of Asia, followed by the PH's gold medal victory in the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games. Just last year, the country's NSA, Hockey Philippines was given full-membership to the International Ice Hockey Federation.