As the Philippine National Games (PNG) and Batang Pinoy national championships draw closer, scheduled to unfold simultaneously from December 17 to 22, 2023, in Metro Manila, the question looms: Is Davao City fully prepared for these twin sporting meets?
With just under a month remaining, the Sports Development Division of the City Mayor's Office (SDD-CMO) is yet to unveil the city's official delegation list for the two events.
While some sports organizations conducted tryouts to compose their teams, others collaborated with accomplished Dabawenyo athletes based in Manila to bolster their contingents.
Consider the potential for Davao City to elevate its standing from the previous fourth overall finish in the PNG. This is achievable by enlisting current national team members and champions or medalists from the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), particularly in sports where medals are abundant, such as arnis, athletics, swimming, and martial arts (boxing, judo, karatedo, kickboxing, Muaythai, taekwondo, wrestling, and wushu).
Securing the services of Dabawenyo athletes already in national teams or studying in top National Capital Region (NCR) universities on varsity scholarships could be more advantageous for the city.
Firstly, these athletes have competed with the strongest rivals in various sports, possessing more exposure than their city-based counterparts and a greater likelihood of winning medals.
Secondly, it allows the city government to save on the cost of their plane tickets, as these athletes are already in Manila.
Lastly, it provides Manila-based Dabawenyo athletes with an opportunity to represent their home city once again and express gratitude to the Dabawenyos who supported their humble beginnings.
Given that the PNG acts as a breeding ground for potential national athletes for the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, Asian Games, and Olympic Games, it is prudent to field only the best Dabawenyo athletes aged 18 and above.
As for the Batang Pinoy, a few UAAP champions and medalists in badminton, tennis, and swimming are part of the city's delegation, along with local rising stars. While this is a commendable mix, there is room for improvement by including more seasoned athletes in other sports, aiming for a more balanced composition, say 50/50 if feasible.
Anticipating future national Local Government Unit (LGU)-based competitions, it is suggested that the SDD-CMO maintains a directory of NCR-based Dabawenyo athletes for easy contact when needed.
Regrettably, woman national master (WNM) Samantha Umayan, who hails from Buhangin, will not be representing Davao City. She mentioned hearing about Batang Pinoy tryouts here but found it impossible to attend from Manila. Expressing disappointment, she mentioned that no one from the city reached out to her. She recently won two chess golds in UAAP Season 86.
There's an appeal for local NSAs to be more flexible, enabling bemedaled Dabawenyo athletes like Sam to represent the city.
In chess, recent competition records or current ratings could serve as selection criteria, as a mere tournament may not fully gauge a player's ability to represent the city effectively.
With the finalization of the city's PNG and BP rosters, all that remains is for us to offer our prayers and support for Dabawenyo athletes' success. MLSA