MANILA - The long wait will soon be over as what President Rodrigo Duterte and Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman William Ramirez envisioned for sports in the country will at last come to fruition when the Philippine Sports Institute (PSI) is inaugurated at the PhilSports Complex Multi-Purpose Arena on Monday afternoon.

It can be recalled that during the press conference after President Duterte awarded last August the P5 million incentive of the national government to 2016 Rio Olympics weightlifting silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz at the Presidential Guest House in Panacan, the President lauded Ramirez's plan of putting up a sports institute to give "equal opportunities for every Filipino athlete."

The president also said that he wants that focus of sports development will be diverted to the regions instead of focusing in Metro Manila, which according to him has become the epicenter of development while the rest of the regions in the country have been forgotten.

Ramirez, who spearheaded a Task Force Southeast Asian Games meeting at the Philsports Complex in Pasig City Friday, said he is "excited" that PSI's launching will usher in a new phase in Philippine sports, an entirely new direction that embraces not just elite athletes who are already in the national teams but as well as homegrown talents that have yet to be discovered in the countryside.

"Excited ko, akong panlangtaw mas mukusog ang athletic development sa mga regions. Ang mga grade school og mga high school dili na kinahanglan muanhi sa Manila kay duna na tay mga regional satellite centers nga pwede sila mag-train (I am excited since I foresee a stronger athletic development in the regions. The grade school and high school athletes need not come to train in Manila as we will have regional satellite centers where they could train)," the PSC chief said.

He added that he finds the growth of community sports "exciting" as it is in line with President Duterte's goal of federal Philippines.

While PSI national training director Marc Velasco will focus on sports science and high performance of elite athletes, his deputy training director Henry Daut is tasked to spearhead the grassroots sports program particularly in the Visayas and Mindanao. The latter will also handle coaches and athletes' education.

"We can be assured that athletes in the grassroots will get the nurturing that they need," Ramirez added.

Velasco, meanwhile, will hold a workshop for the regional coordinators today.

The PSI will have a monthly budget of P25 million for its operations including upgrade and purchase of sports equipment, foreign training of national athletes, training camps for grassroots

Program

Duterte, however, could not make it to the PSI launch but he is sending Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco, Jr. and Presidential Adviser for Sports Dennis Uy who is also president and chief executive officer of Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, Incorporated.

Ramirez said, "Nibalibad na sya kaydaghan sya'g bisita sugod pa gahapon (He declined as he has to attend to some guests starting Friday)."

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is in the country for a two-day state visit. He was still in Davao City with President Duterte as of Friday presstime.

Evasco will be the keynote speaker while Uy will give his message of support to the PSI.

Evasco, Uy, Diaz and Barcelona Olympic boxing bronze medalist Roel Velasco will then lead the oath of support before Ramirez will give his closing remarks.

Some 500 guests have been invited to the milestone event including senators, congressmen, presidents of national sports associations, officials of government agencies and other stakeholders from all over the country.