Sunday, August 18, 2019

Fernando: Go for gold


I WAS beginning to believe that the Korean curse against our Filipino basketball team will be lifted in the middle of the third quarter during their quarter final match last Monday. But came the next half of that quarter, when the team couldn't get a single rebound giving the Korean multiple possessions and finally one of them drilling a three that prompted a 9-2 run, reality was starting to sink in. We are a country full of talents but only capable of giving a good fight, bowing in the end, because this country and its government could not create a culture of sport excellence.

I am one of the thousands of Filipinos watching the Asian games hoping that, like what Hidilyn Diaz and the women golfers did, the country's flag is pulled up higher than any flag. I know others wanted to watch the continental games but because they do not see our athletes winning, they opt to mind other things. There is no problem with our athletes. Their desire to win is very apparent. Our very own Divine Wally after bagging the bronze medal in the wushu event still could not hide her tears of disappointment. She wanted more. She wanted to give the Philippines more than a bronze medal. Our athletes wanted to go for gold but their best were not enough because this country does not give a damn on sports excellence.

Sports is a world in its own. It is not only about scouting talents or setting schedules for practices to develop competitive gold-worthy athletes. Development of competitive players involves the culture of the people and country. It involves the attitude and vision of coaches, sports officials, administrators, the athletes' families, the media, and other sectors. Funding from the government and private individuals is essential for training of athletes. Once the fund stop to pour in, the sports programs are derailed. If we want to fare better in the world stage, we have to develop this culture of excellence. The level of competitiveness in the world stage has taken a notch and we are not doing enough to catch up.

Politics has no place in sports because if it takes over, the athletes and their development suffer. The core players in sports are the athletes. Coaches and officials' main task is to develop them. If coaches and officials are incompetent, they have to undergo trainings or be fired. There is no time to quarrel for administrative positioning. We cannot always hope for another Asian or SEA game. Our athletes should be winning today.

It is not surprising that those who do well in sports are the progressive countries. It is because their culture of excellence is translated in the sport's world. They want to win because they know they can and when they could not, they find ways. They study the strategies of their opponents, see their weaknesses, and understand their strengths. They train their athletes, set programs for them, at their young age. They adopt the effective strategies and built from it. They form this mindset to the athletes, coaches, and sports officials.

Winning gives pride and pride leads to love of country. Every time a Filipino competes, the country watches in awe, because of seeing a fellow competing against the best. Only the better can compete against the best but it is always the best who ends up winning. Winning promotes an attitude of "we can." Every time we win, people recognize us. But if our athletes continue to show poor performances and keep bowing in defeat, Filipinos also feel crashed. Our inferior mindset stays. Giving a good fight is not always enough and it is frustrating when it is always the case. We have to go for gold.

Our athletes have the potential to win gold because of our talents. Hidilyn and many others proved that. We just need to create a culture of excellence, a culture of winning. For this culture to be built, everybody must work for a united purpose. Sports administrators are strongly encouraged to let go of their personal gain. I will not stop watching games especially when Filipinos are competing because I know that we are gold-worthy medalists.


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