PVL operations manager Cesar Malapitan (extreme left, standing) poses with his workers composed of a set-up-and-dismantle team, gaters, ushers and usherettes, and court personnel.
At full blast, Premier Volleyball League operations manager Cesar Malapitan uses 40 people to run the operations of a Sports Vision-organized tournament anywhere in Metro Manila.
Mostly at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City or Philsports Arena in Pasig City. Or sometimes at the Ynares Sports Arena also in traffic-choked Pasig.
When fans turn out at the playing venue, their attention is invariably drawn to the green and orange surface of the 105-sq.m. playing area that gleams under the powerful overhead lights.
It is Taraflex (cost: P1.4 million) that covers the whole basketball court in the middle of which lies the orange-colored volleyball court in the middle of which the net attached to two posts bisects it in equal parts.
Did you know that the court is being readied at 12 midnight preceding the playing day?
It takes 10 workers and two and a half hours to install the rubber surface and another two to dismantle it.
It is indeed a lot of work to run the every-other-day operations of, say, the PVL Reinforced Conference which winds up Thursday, June 15, at FilOil Flying V Centre with finalists Pocari Sweat and BaliPure tangling in the deciding match of their best-of-three series.
Like a colony of bees
The PVL operations system is akin to a colony of bees, each group as busy and as efficient as the other carrying out a specific function.
Malapitan is among the very few who’ve been working with Sports Vision since the first of the 13 seasons of the blockbuster V League and 3 seasons of the Spikers’ Turf, and who is again entrusted, by virtue of his impeccable record, to call the shots in the operations of the brand-new PVL lumping the men’s and women’s divisions into one tournament that’s hailed as the next big thing in Philippine volleyball.
For the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference, Malapitan says he is working with 32 men and women, most of whom have been with him for years. These are husband-and-wife teams working the tournament sometimes with one or two of their brood or in-laws.
Or for the sake of convenience more than anything else, a whole barkada in one barangay in San Juan, where the Malapitans live and where the San Juan arena is located.
You meet his staff every step of the way inside the playing venue. The seven gaters who sell tickets at the booth, who tear the stub off your ticket and who watch over the things you bring with you but which you cannot take inside.
You run next into the eight ushers and usherettes who guide you to the seat specified in the ticket and from which you peer down at the 15 court personnel – the six moppers, three on each side of the court, who push their mops across the court and who move like synchronized swimmers in rhythm with the blaring upbeat music; the six ball retrievers at work during team warm-ups and during the match, the two quick poppers; and one table scorer.
It is important work that the two quick poppers are doing. They’re tasked to keep the playing area uniformly dry. A wet patch may cause a player to slip or take a bad fall that could result in a sprained ankle or an ACL injury, the mother of every player’s nightmares.
While you exit the gates, every one of the operations staff stays behind to do the final work for the day, the women to help out in dismantling the sponsors’ streamers or tarpaulins or stands and the males to fold the 105sq.m. rubber mat in sections in perfect rolls to make them ready for the next playing day.
Oh yes, they do eat like you and me. Gobbling up the pack snacks and meals provided by Sports Vision in between work and during long game breaks needs to be done fast.
A stern master
Malapitan enjoys eating out or, before his heart issued a grave warning to him, sharing booze with his staff once in a while, but he wears the professional mask at game time. He does not tolerate inefficiency and slackness among his staff.
Woe to anyone who misbehaves, who doesn’t carry out his instruction to the last detail or who executes it half-heartedly. The operations boss is said to suspend or fire a member of his group on the spot even if he is a relative or an in-law of his wife, who happens to be the PVL treasurer only.
He so loves the work he has been doing for Sports Vision that for a long spell in 2016, he is said to be checking on his men and women in the playing venue by phone from his sickbed!
That he has been around since the first of the 13 seasons of the now disbanded V League and still is in the inaugural staging of the PVL, another pacesetting event of Sports Vision with Asics as its official league partner and Mikasa as its official game ball, says it all.
The founding men and women of the visionary sports outfit continue to trust him completely and unconditionally.
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