Good national sports program needed in PH, ex-sports officials say

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A former sports program official says the country has been inconsistent in gaining success in sports. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 10) — Former sports group officials said the country still needs to strengthen its efforts to train and develop athletes amid their success in the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

Former “Gintong Alay” Executive Director and incumbent Laoag City Mayor Michael Keon noted the country’s top-notch athletes such as gymnast and Olympics 2020 qualifier Carlos Yulo. However, he noted that the Philippines has yet to be consistent with its success in sporting events, adding that it has yet to achieve a gold medal in the Olympics.

“The problem with Philippine sports is that it always goes around in circles. We tend to go up and down and we tend to go round and round,” Keon told CNN Philippines’ Politics As Usual. “The Philippines is one of the few countries left in the world that has not won an Olympic gold medal.”

Keon said a national sports program may be able to address this concern but he is not sure if a new agency or institute may be needed to develop such.

“Whether we can actually create a real honest to goodness sports program where all these problems in sports are addressed, I’m not sure. Maybe they can create a department of sports. Maybe they need to create a sports institute,” he said.

“Gintong Alay” was the national sports program in the 1970’s under then-President Ferdinand Marcos. It eventually became the country's "umbrella sports organization," Keon said.

Keon commended the country’s expected win as overall champion of the 30th SEA Games but hopes this will be sustained in future competitions.

”What will happen in the next two years now that we’ve done this? How can we institutionalize this success in the SEA games and build ourselves up to become a true sports power, not just in Southeast Asia but in Asia?,” he raised.

Former Philippine Sports Commission Chairman Philip Juico agreed, saying a national program may invite young individuals to a long commitment to physical activity.

“We have to have that base... We have to get these young men and women, all of us, to develop an early commitment to physical activity at a very early age,” said Juico.

He added that this program will allow athletes to invest in “”as many sports as possible.”

“Get them interested and not just in one sport but in several sports and they choose their specialization,” he said.

2017 SEA Games Chef de Mission and Gymnastics Association of the Philippines President Cynthia Carion also echoed the need for a good sports program. She added that there are also ongoing efforts to amplify the country’s commitment to sports. She revealed that they will be setting up a “sports academy” in Pampanga by 2020.

“We're putting up a sports academy... They’re going to study and they’re going to train at the same place. That will be coming up in 2020...We already have the space in Clark -- acres and acres of land,” Carion said.

Beyond the medal

For former Philippine Olympic Committee Chair Cristy Ramos, success in sports comes from a greater appreciation for fitness and health at the basic level of physical education. This also means that sports should go beyond the drive to attain medals, she added.

“Going beyond the medal counts, if we engage in physical activities, it really relates to our physical fitness and health,” said Ramos.

“This is an objective you can push for the 110 million Filipinos, instead of saying go into sports because you’re going to win a gold medal, but if you say go into sports because you’re going to be more fit, you have better health, you can work long hours...there is a direct involvement of sporting activities” she argued.

She defended that schools should treat physical education with as much importance as math and science subjects.

“Maybe [treat it] as important as math and science. It should be,” said Ramos. “It has to be the total development of the individual, total mental, physical, psychological,” said Ramos.