From 2016 to ‘17, Alyssa Valdez experienced being a professional player while suiting up for Thai team 3BB Nakornnont and Taiwanese squad Attack Line.
Three years later, the 27-year-old spiker can be a pro on home soil, as the Premier Volleyball League has gone professional.
For Valdez, it’s a long time coming.
“I believe na it’s about time to go pro. I hope this will help the teams, the players, and the league and the volleyball community in the long run,” said the six-time V-League Most Valuable Player, who plays for Creamline.
“May iloo-look forward na ang bawat volleyball players. May bagong motivation na tayo para sa mga bawat manlalaro ng volleyball. So I hope this really bring very good or competitive volleyball dito sa atin sa PVL and sa volleyball community.”
Valdez’s junior Bea De Leon, meanwhile, knows that being a pro entails responsibilities.
But during her first year with Choco Mucho, the 5-foot-11 blocker admits that the transition would not be hard for her and the rest of her fellow V-League players.
“In terms of conducting ourselves I think, at least naman in the semi-pro from a perspective of a player, we’d like to think not much would change,” said the 23-year-old Ateneo product.
“Of course, we acknowledge the fact that in any league we have to hold ourselves in a certain type of way, and that is to be as professional as we can be regardless of our age and regardless of where we are or status in the league.”
“One anecdote that I can give when we asked about our players on what they felt about going pro, one of the players said, ‘Sir, akala ko pro na tayo?’ As what Ricky [Palou] was saying, I trust that all the teams have been running their respective teams professionally. Now that we have been invited and trusted the system, we believe that this is a step forward not only for the players, but also for the sport,” added Creamline and Choco Mucho owner Jonathan Ng.
By going pro, players will have to undergo seminars organized by the Games and Amusements Board in order to get their pro licenses.
It’s the fresh air the league needs after the ongoing coronavirus pandemic stopped any team from stepping foot on the court this year.
“For us, it’s very timely that GAB and the PVL, with the height of the pandemic and everything that has been going on — join forces and restart the sport. There might be new things that will happen but everyone has an open mind,” said Banko Perlas owner Charo Soriano.
“Finally, kasi the players have been asking since March about conditioning. It’s hard to train for a team sport but you’re alone. So it also affected the players mentally. This uplifted the spirit of our players,” admitted Motolite team owner Ricky Chan.
As former players themselves, albeit from different sports, Petro Gazz team manager Camille Cruz and Bali Pure team manager Gil Cortez know that having a pro volleyball league is a huge step forward for the sport.
It will not only improve the lives of the players, but also give aspirants something to dream about.
“This will be a great opportunity for everybody especially the players.
“Me being an amateur before then turning pro, alam ko na mag-lelevel up lahat ‘yan. Not only the salaries but also the player’s responsibility in the public eye. May code of conduct ‘yan na tatahakin mo at kailangan mong i-represent ang sarili mo ng mabuti sa publiko,” said Cortez, who was the PBA’s Rookie of the Year back in 1976.
“It’s a privilege for the players right now. It’s a player’s dream to step into a league na professional. Kami sa Petro Gazz, we are happy for the collegiate and grassroots players because they now have something to go to,” said Cruz.
The PVL opens its first season as a pro league either on February or March next year inside a bubble in Laguna.