By Kristel Satumbaga
With the country still thirsting for an Olympic gold medal, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) has decided to break down the different National Sports Associations into groups for a more effective approach to budget distribution.
Ten Olympic sports will be given the most priority in terms of support and funding, leaning into their athletes to make an impact in this year’s Asian Games, which serves as springboard to the country’s overall campaign in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The PSC believes these sports have athletes with the highest chances of winning the country’s first Olympic gold medal.
Among the sports in the “First Tier” are athletics, weightlifting, judo, taekwondo, boxing, archery, gymnastics, windsurfing, aquatics and surfing.
Aquatics will get the bulk of the total P600 million funding for all 47 accredited NSAs for this year alone with P36 million, which will be distributed in different disciplines such as swimming, water polo, diving, synchronized swimming and open water swimming.
Athletics, a centerpiece sport in multi-events, will be allocated P35 million, even as weightlifting, judo, taekwondo, boxing and archery receive P20 million each.
Gymnastics, windsurfing and surfing will have P15 million apiece. The “Second Tier” has Olympic and non-Olympic sports, with budgets ranging from P8 to P20 million, while the “Third Tier” comprises the remaining 27 sports getting fund allocations between P3 million to 15 million each.
Philippine Sports commissioner Charles Maxey reiterated that the government sports agency is doing the best it can to provide support for the athletes, but help varies with their capability to deliver an Olympic gold.
“Personally, I believe we should focus on those who have a strong chance of winning in the Olympics. That’s why we have this (Board Resolution) to determine which NSAs needed the most help” said Maxey.
“And when we say support, it means helping them with their foreign exposures because you cannot compete against the best kung hindi tayo sasali sa mabibigat na tournaments. Mapapag-iwanan tayo,” Maxey added.
While Olympic sports are given top priority, other sports have to make do with what are allocated to them.
Among these is sepak takraw, a Southeast Asian native sport also known as kick volleyball.
Philippine Amateur Sepak Takraw Association president Karen Caballero is aware of the country’s craving for its first Olympic gold medal. But she maintained “light” improvements could be done as far as supporting non-Olympic sports like sepak takraw is concerned.
“PSC is really supportive of the athletes, in general. We make do with whatever support given to us, but improvements could be done especially in the process of releasing the equipment to the athletes and other procedural stuff,” Caballero said, whose national team won two silver and two bronze medals at the 2017 Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia.
The PH sepak takraw team does not have a dedicated training venue as it uses the Ninoy Aquino Stadium for training whenever it is available. The squad also lives inside the decades-old Rizal Memorial Sports Complex with most national team members.
For the past decade, both the PSC and the Philippine Olympic Committee have been looking to put up a new national training center outside Metro Manila with little progress.
For now, however, the PSC under William “Butch” Ramirez is slowly addressing the general issues of the athletes one project at a time: Repairing dilapidated training venues, providing better nutrition to athletes as well as providing enough financial assistance for their foreign trainings and exposures.
The days of decrepit facilities may soon be over.