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The world of sports has changed entirely since the pandemic, but with the roll out of vaccines and safety protocols in place, athletes and sports organizations have found a way to adapt to the new normal. Just like in the case of the PLDT Home Fibr Hitters, the volleyball team supported by the country’s largest fully integrated telco, PLDT. 

Middle blocker Maristela Genn Layug shared that she faced some challenges during the pandemic. “I gained weight and had trouble sleeping at the start of the pandemic because my body was looking for the workout that I got from training every day. I was super sad because I only got to do online exercises with my teammates during that time,” she said. 

Libero Alyssa Eroa also said that their training has been affected somehow, especially during the time when gatherings were strictly prohibited. “Our condition was different from when we had actual training, and although it was difficult, we managed to find a way to bring it back.”

For these volleyball athletes, technology has played a big role as they prepare for the upcoming Premier Volleyball League (PVL). The team was able to finally train together in a safe bubble in Batangas in May and is now gearing up for the start of the games this year. 

“We are super excited and thankful because we were given a chance by PLDT and our coaches to train for the season,” Wing spiker Isa Molde said. “We’re also excited that we had the chance to spend some time with teammates since I am new to the team, and I wanted to meet and get to know them better.” 

For team captain Rhea Dimaculangan, the nation-widest network of PLDT and its mobile unit Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) have helped them stay in touch with their families while they were away in the training bubble. 

“Having a fast and reliable internet network really helped me a lot to be updated with my family back home. Whenever I have free time, I always do video call with my family and loved ones. That is why it’s really nice to have this kind of technology nowadays as I get the chance to see them and ask how they’re doing, even though I’m far away because of our bubble training it still feels like I am with them,” the setter shared. 

“Technology has helped us a lot since we’re away from our families, this is a way for us to stay in touch and help us overcome our homesickness,” Eroa added. 

For Smart user Layug, she uses her mobile data for her school and passions outside of volleyball. “I’m not going to lie; internet is super fast. And good thing with Smart, everywhere I go, I have signal, especially right now, for online classes.” 

This is a result of PLDT and Smart’s nationwide rollout and expansion of their fully integrated network. To date, Smart’s wireless network, the fastest mobile network in the country according to third-party analytics firm Ookla, covers 96% of the Philippine population from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi. 

"This is part of our long-standing commitment to support Philippine sports and our athletes. We believe in the importance of providing fast and reliable connectivity in enabling our athletes to keep in touch with their loved ones while training in these unprecedented times, so that they are inspired to be the best that they can be," said Alfredo S. Panlilio, PLDT Inc. and Smart Communications President and CEO and First Vice President of the Philippine Olympic Committee. 

Enabling these services is parent company PLDT’s fiber infrastructure, the most extensive in the country at over 478,000 kilometers as of end-March 2021. 

PLDT and Smart’s relentless push to provide connectivity for all is aligned with the group’s long-standing commitment to help the Philippines attain the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG #9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure.