The NCAA hopes to finally stage face-to-face games for the upcoming Season 97 after an almost two-year lull due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The country’s first collegiate league is already talking to the Commission on Higher Education on the possibility of opening the new season in January 2022 which will be hosted by College of St. Benilde

“This is really rising to the challenge, a motto that we have always embraced this pandemic,” said NCAA management committee member Peter Cayco of Arellano University.

The in-person games, however, will only be limited to the men’s basketball and women’s volleyball as the league eyes for a possible bubble setup outside Metro Manila.

According to Cayco, the CHED already advised the league to inform the Inter-Agency Task Force regarding its plan to push through with the new season

“Our concern is that if we stage it here in Metro Manila, and (COVID-19) cases rise, it would hamper our schedule,” said Cayco.

The current decrease in the total number of daily COVID-19 cases as well as the opening of face-to-face classes to some of the top collegiate schools in the country should bode well to the leagues’ bid to finally stage in-person games.

NCAA plans to hold the games  hree times a week and will be shown live via its broadcasting partner, GMA Network’s GTV.

Moreover, CHED has also offered to vaccinate all the players and coaches who will be joining the bubble although according to Cayco, almost 80 percent of the participants are already fully vaccinated.

Among the choices for the venue of the bubble is Subic Bay where several hotels have already signified intention to house some 800 athletes.

NCAA held its Season 96 early this year although the events were only limited to online and pre-taped competitions in taekwondo, chess, and skill games in basketball and volleyball.

Source: Manila Bulletin (