Department of Education (DepEd) Assistant Secretary Tonisito Umali hopes the country will surpass its best finish in the 9th Asean School Games slated on July 13 to 21 in Singapore.
“We hope to land second or third this year,” said Umali on Tuesday during the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association forum at the Golden Phoenix Hotel in Pasay City.
According to Umali, the PH contingent will be composed of Palarong Pambansa and Batang Pinoy standouts and student-athletes from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP).
A total of 159 Filipino student-athletes will represent the Philippine team. In 2014, the country had its best finish in the Asean School Games after bagging 11 golds, 14 silvers and 22 bronze medals, good for fourth place overall.
With the implementation of K+12 program, Umali said it gave them an opportunity to create a deep pool of talent and level the age of competition against the country’s rivals.
“Before, our athletes are young yet they are winning. How much more today that we have Grades 11 and Grade 12 who will be competing. We will be at least on their level in terms of age,” added Umali.
Swimmers Maurice Sacho Ilustre and Jerald Jacinto and tracksters Francis Obiena and Jie Anne Calis will lead the country’s campaign in the Asean School Games.
Besides swimming and athletics, the Philippines will also compete in badminton, sepak takraw, basketball, gymnastics, table tennis, tennis, and volleyball.
Umali said the student-athletes will undergo a 10-day training and will be housed in different parts of Metro Manila including the Philsports Complex in Pasig before leaving for Singapore.
“We are very excited to do a formal training for the delegation. This is the first time that we gave the athletes the chance to train,” he said.