(First of two parts)
I recently interviewed Philippine Swimming League (PSL) swimmer Jan Vincent “JV” Llaguno, 18, a varsity tanker of De La Salle University-Dasmariñas.
JV is a Bachelor of Physical Education student and was a participant in the 2015 Summer World University Games in Gwangju, South Korea.
Many say sports and politics don’t mix but there are always exceptions.
JV said that “politics and sports or sports diplomacy use sports as a means to influence diplomatic, social, and political relations, and that sports diplomacy may transcend cultural differences and bring people together.”
The use of sports and politics has both positive and negative implications as history has proven. Sports competitions have the intention to bring about change in certain cases. Nationalistic fervor is sometimes linked to victories or losses in some sports.
The Olympics is often the biggest example of using sports for diplomatic means. While ethnicity and race can cause division, sports can also help reconcile differences.
Sports is an important part of Philippine culture but it was never been the priority of our top officials. They have no vision for our athletes.
Basically, we Filipinos love sports.
But look at Manny Pacquiao; how the whole country joins him each time he gets in the ring. The Philippines fell in love with football when the Azkals came along. And there is a basketball court in practically every barangay across the nation. We are not short on passion and neither do we lack talent. So what is it that is making us fail so miserably?
The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) is the government agency primarily tasked of assisting in the development of amateur sports in the country while the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) is a private, non-government organization recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the sole agency in the Philippines responsible for athletes competing in the SEA Games, Asian Games and the Olympics.
As an athlete, representing the country is a huge undertaking hence we prepare ourselves for the pressure of competing internationally.
Sending athletes to international competition is akin to sending diplomats to other countries.
There are minimum standards that the government must strive to achieve if they want the rest of the world to take Philippines seriously in sports.
The majority of Filipinos believe that the government is to blame for the country’s failure in sports. Besides proper training and proper diet, psychological readiness is also required for optimal athletic performance.
Some athletes lack nutrition as well as physical and mental conditioning. How can they be mentally strong if they’re not physically strong?
We don’t even have proper training facilities and nobody is exerting effort to fulfill these needs.
Former President Fidel V. Ramos, a sports fan and an athlete, signed Executive Orders 63 and 64 that mandated the creation of Physical, Fitness and Sports Development Councils to promote physical education and sports programs and competitions on a national scale. Whatever happened to this law?
It was also during his term that the Philippines last won an Olympic medal. When will be the next?
Does the present administration ranks sports on the top of its priorities?
The lack of attention given to sports is evident in the laughable budget the government has for athletic development. This neglect appears to perpetuate yet another problem; destructive politics among local sports agencies.
Among these are accusations of mishandling of funds and power struggles between heads of National Sports Association (NSA’s), the PSC and the POC that has been going on for years.
Caught in the middle of these dirty squabbles are the athletes, some of which were deprived of financial support or barred from competing in international competitions.