National sports associations (NSAs) will now have 600 million reasons to be at their best behavior. And associations that have long clamored for support from the government better take heed.
In the wake of the country’s four-gold medal performance in the Asian Games, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chief Butch Ramirez promised to lavish NSAs with money—amounting to P600 million a year—if they “perform above expectations.”
More importantly, Ramirez wants these NSAs to “behave.”
Ramirez said they will not hesitate to spend even more if the NSAs meet several demands he made like “putting up a strong grassroots development program and encourage a roomful of athletes.”
“Buhusan namin ng pera (we’ll pour in the funds) if they behave with solid program, no leadership disputes,” said Ramirez. “Otherwise, I will ask the President’s permission to just spend the money for grassroots.”
The announcement comes at the heels of a clamor of support for sports that have done well in the recent Asian Games. Weightlifting, skateboard and golf combined for four gold medals. The Philippines also bagged two silvers and 15 bronzes.
Weightlifting heroine Hidilyn Diaz said it was time for “athletes and officials to sit down and truly discuss what each other wants.”
“We have to be open,” Diaz said in a luncheon tendered by St. Benilde for its Asiad gold medalists Thursday at Vatel Restaurant, Hotel Benilde Maison De La Salle.
Also present was Diaz’s fellow Benilde product and Asiad bronze medalist for wushu Agatha Wong, whose NSA perfectly fits Ramirez’s criteria.
Aside from her medal in Jakarta, Wong also qualified for the World Championships in November.
“Before the Asian Games, we had financial problems. We had no coach, we had no budget for a new costume. We weren’t able to train in China and for big tournaments such as the SEA Games and the Asian Games, it is mandatory that we train in China,” Wong explained.
The budget cuts, she said, “showed in the performance of my other teammates. If we had trained in China, we could have had a better [medal haul].”
And wushu isn’t a slouch on the grassroots side either.
“Most of our junior players in wushu are 8 to 11 years old. We assess them for their flexibility and we train them. We have so many junior athletes right now who can be future medalists [in international competitions],” added Wong.