Monday, October 25, 2021

Abalayan: Adopt an athlete

Time Out

THE national government, particularly the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), has been very vocal about the important role that the private sector played in the country's resounding success in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The PSC even issued a statement that it takes a nation to realize a dream - the dream of winning the first gold medal in the Olympics.

We ended our best Olympic stint in almost a century of competing in the quadrennial Games by clinching the historic gold medal along with two silvers, and one bronze. For two weeks of action in the Games, Filipinos all over the world came together on different social media platforms to cheer, pray, and support our 19 Olympians.

Filipino Olympic medalists Hidilyn Diaz (weightlifting gold), Nesthy Alcayde Petecio and Carlo Paalam (boxing silvers), and Eumir Felix Marcial (boxing bronze) also reaped millions of cash incentives aside from real properties and free flights, among other bonuses, from both the government and private sectors. Some of them received brand new cars, Hidilyn for one and Nesthy, too. I'm not certain if Carlo and Eumir also got cars, nevertheless, what they all have received so far is beyond what they could have ever imagined.

PSC Chairman William "Butch" Ramirez, however, hopes that the generosity of those who rewarded the medalists will result in corporations adopting top-performing athletes.

He was quoted as saying, “We encourage more private participation not only for handing out cash incentives, but also to invest or adopt an athlete of their choice.’’ This is something that private companies can explore, support national athletes from the start and share in their journeys of victories and defeats. By doing so, they can avail of tax exemptions, and PSC can help with the process.

The national athletes receive monthly allowances from the government through PSC. Most of them, who come from outside the National Capital Region (NCR) also get free board and lodging at PSC dorms. Their training and exposures abroad are also funded or subsidized by the government even though they belong to different national sports associations (NSAs) under the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), which by the way are private entities. Their coaches and trainers also get salaries from the government.

Just imagine the difference it can make if godfathers from private corporations adopt an athlete or athletes and also support them for their other needs. Perhaps, beef up their coaching staff or subsidize their foreign training and the logistics they would need to prepare for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

If the private sector takes the initiative to start adopting athletes who have the potential to win medals in Paris and if the next administration after the 2022 presidential elections continues to support the athletes just like President Rodrigo R. Duterte and the current PSC Board, then we can dream of surpassing the country's Tokyo medal haul with more golds in the 2024 Olympics. There are very few companies I can think of who have been all out in supporting their chosen national athletes.

How much more fulfilling it would be for sports patrons to see their adopted athletes bring home the bacon, right? So they will not just ride in on the celebration when these athletes win an Olympic medal by rewarding them with incentives, although that is very welcome. To be a part of every bit of the athletes' Paris 2024 Olympic journey would be such a great experience and far more glorifying for sports patrons.

So for those who think the athletes are not getting the support they need from the government, how about adopting an athlete now and see for yourself how far you can go. After all, it takes a nation to realize a dream and the government is but a part of it.


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