SENATOR Juan Edgardo Angara expressed hope on Friday that President Benigno Aquino III will include sports development in his last State of the Nation Address (Sona) on July 27.
Angara, chairman of Senate committee on games, amusement and sports, said that the promotion of exercise and an active lifestyle should be part of the country’s health program.
“We are hoping that sports development will be included in PNoy’s last State of the Nation Address (Sona). Any move to boost sports spending should not just be aimed at winning international competitions but in promoting wellness among our people,” Angara said.
“We’ve heard of funds to combat smoking or allocations to cure many diseases. But we have not yet heard sports, as preventive medicine. For the Filipino people, especially the youth, to get involved in sports, whether for health, competition or recreational purpose, government should provide the facilities for them,” he added.
While the Philippines’ ranking slightly improved from seventh to sixth in the 28th Southeast Asian Games, Angara said the country should aim higher to ensure that athletes would excel in the 2017 edition in Malaysia.
He said boxing, athletics, billiards, softball, rugby, track and field, and basketball may be the country’s most lucrative events but at the time of the competition, the Philippines failed to win a single gold in swimming and the poor performance of Filipino divers became viral on social media.
“It’s devastating that even the head of the Philippine Aquatic Sports Association admitted that he was not surprised by the poor performance of our divers. We recognize that sports development in the country has been neglected for the past years given the national shortage of public sports centers,” Angara said.
The Philippine delegation managed to bag 29 gold, 36 silver and 66 bronze medals.
Angara noted that the primary problem besetting the country’s sports sector is funding.
He said the Philippine Sports Commission’s P750-million annual budget is small compared to Thailand’s budget of P13 billion, Singapore’s P6.5 billion, and Indonesia and Malaysia’s P4-billion funding.
Angara has recently sponsored five bills establishing sports academies and training centers in Cebu, Misamis Occidental, Davao del Norte, Siargao Island, and Cavite, which the Senate approved in third and final reading before the session ends.
The senator said establishing sports academies would jumpstart grassroots sports development all over the country as many young athletes could adequately prepare for a genuine career in sports and hone their skills for local and international competitions.
Likewise, Angara is batting for the establishment of a Philippine Amateur Sports Training Center so that the 800 athletes and 300 coaches who carry the flag will have a well-equipped home and training facilities at par with international standards.
“Other countries have built their own national stadiums because they serve a civic purpose and as a matter of national pride, Singapore, a tiny nation, overtook us because it makes sports facilities a basic part of every housing or community development – the equivalent of our barangays having sports facilities,” the senator said.
Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is running for president next year, encouraged "stronger partnerships" between government and the private sector in sports, from infrastructure development to the training of athletes.
"Government should give priority to building a grassroots sports development program anchored on partnership with the private sector to ensure that athletes from the provinces with potential will also have the chance to be discovered and trained," he said. (Sunnex)