A time for talk and then action
It isn’t easy putting together very competitive and passionate heads of national sports associations (NSAs) and a sports government agency that provides and oversees financial support. There will be differences in opinion and ways of proceeding, especially when the challenges of winning and an upcoming Southeast Asian Games are involved.
And yet Philippine Sports Commission Chair William “Butch” Ramirez framed the recent meeting at PICC with the Philippine Olympic Committee and the NSAs as a “conversation.” Ramirez, who is on his second tour of duty with the commission, was clearly cognizant of the stress points of the relationship between the two major sports entities but was willing to listen and explain the position of the PSC.
This was echoed by the remarks of POC president Ricky Vargas, which were read by committee chair Abraham Tolentino (Vargas was on an important business trip overseas) since all concerned must be “single-minded in doing the country proud” in the upcoming regional sports meet.
The expected issues still surfaced but were discussed as calmly as possible. Ramirez explained that “the needs of the athletes are many, not just for the SEA Games,” and thus issues like funding (including reimbursement and liquidation), foreign coaches, housing, meals, overseas tournaments and others are always going to face Philippine sports.
We may easily dismiss the politics in Philippine sports but meetings between the stakeholders and the decision-makers are always a healthy sign. Despite the already well-known fact that Filipino athletes are naturally gifted and need only sufficient training and funding, there are inherent problems that restrict maximizing the full potential of young and even veteran sports participants.
Today, passion and nationalism in sports must be fueled by proper and efficient management and funding.
The rest of the Asian region and the world have the benefits of stronger economies and viable sports organizations and infrastructure.
The early dominance of the Philippines in regional sports events in the 1950s and 1960s has already been offset by rivals who have made bolder and encompassing changes to their sports participation.
As long as the well-being and the success of the athlete remain the foremost priorities of all concerned, then meetings and the daily pursuit of athletic excellence can proceed. There will be struggles and difficulties because the road to athletic triumph is never easy but we should remain hopeful because the game isn’t over yet.