Nonito Donaire Jr. again showed little importance to the Athlete of the Year honor accorded him by the Philippine Sportswriters Association, choosing to train in San Carlos, California, rather than join his peers during the Annual Awards night Saturday at Manila Hotel.
The snub was particularly ungentlemanly for scribes since the World Boxing Association super bantamweight champion, who will face WBA titlist Guillermo Rigondeaux of Cuba in a unification bout on April 13 in New York, gave no reason whatsoever for missing the PSA’s gala event.
“He didn’t show up for the second straight year and, again, there was no word from him or anything,” said a disgusted PSA president Rey Bancod of Tempo yesterday.
Bancod said the consensus world Fighter of the Year also didn’t give any reason for not showing up last year, when he shared the 2011 Athlete of the Year plum with cue wizard Dennis Orcollo.
The PSA received a text from Donaire’s road manager, who told Bancod twice to wait for an e-mail from his ward days before the awards night. But it never came.
“I even asked help from some of the (PSA) members who are close to him (Donaire) but to no avail,” said Bancod.
Donaire was honored by the oldest and largest sport media organization on Saturday as co-Athletes of the Year with Aiba World Women’s Boxing Championship gold medalist Josie Gabuco, Big League Softball World Series winner Team Manila and “five-peat” UAAP men’s basketball titlist Ateneo Blue Eagles.
During the glittering affair attended by sports leaders and last year’s top performers, sportsman-businessman Mike Romero, the night’s guest of honor, provided a seed money of P200,000 to start the ball rolling for the creation of a Department of Sports.
Romero made the pitch during his speech.
The team owner of Globalport in the PBA and president of the country’s shooting federation believes that the department is the “permanent solution to the funding and infrastructure problems of the country’s sports programs.”
“The Department of Sports will serve as the new platform for sports, the foundation on which to build the blocks of modern and results-oriented sports program,” said Romero.
Citing the case of India, which set up a Ministry of Sports in 1982, Romero stressed that such a department should serve the Philippines in good stead five to 10 years from now.
“For the next five, 10, and 25 years of Philippine sports, we need a new platform and a new organization to propel our sports programs to greater heights,” said Romero during the two-hour rites presented by San Miguel Corp., Smart, Meralco, Rain or Shine, LBC, ICTSI and Philippine Golf Tour, Globalport 900, SM Prime Holdings, Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Philippine Basketball Association, and Philippine Sports Commission.
“We need to help create the Department of Sports not tomorrow but today,” added Romero.