IT was during one of the first visits to Cebu by Philippine Sports Commission Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez that he lamented on the sad state of Philippine sports. The athletes were ignored and the associations were milking the PSC for every drop that they could.
It was also then that he shared a vision of Philippine sports having one national sports center where all the members of the national team can train. A state-of-the-art facility complete with a dormitory and all the things a modern athlete needs.
Of course, that wasn’t the first time I heard of such from a Philippine sports official. Former Philippine Olympic Committee chairman Peping Cojuangco had been touting that from his first year at the helm in 2004 until he got ousted, deservingly, in 2018.
I’ve basically forgotten about Ramirez’s dream until a few days ago when President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Philippine Sports Training Center law that would establish a 20-hectare, P3.5 billion facility in Pangasinan for 39 Olympic and non-Olympic sports.
And that’s something we sorely need.
I’m not saying, of course, that the PSC solely deserves the credit, I’m just retelling that tale because the development made me recall that incident. Besides, this present crop of PSC officials isn’t big on credit.
Under current conditions, national teams of different sports train in different venues but with a national center, they could all train in one. And I think that will be an added advantage. One of the things I’ve learned from interviews with national team members is that they always say a lot of fans don’t know what’s it like to be in the national team. They don’t know the difficulties of making the team and the struggles in making sure you stay with the team.
I always get the feeling that they sometimes feel isolated. I think they won’t be under the new center since they are going to be living in a compound with guys who are just like them, the best of the country plucked from the rest of the country.
Another thing I’ve heard often from the national team is that they have to make do with old equipment and sleep in quarters that have seen better days. This center will address that.
I like too that the center won’t be limited to Olympic sports. There’s a certain hierarchy in Philippine sports with basketball at the helm and “unglamorous sports” on the outside looking in. This, I think, will level the field.
I can’t wait for this center to be finally built and be utilized.