Politics sidelines dragon boat team

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POLITICS is the reason why the Philippine Dragon Boat team, the country’s best hope for bagging a gold medal, will not see action in the 2013 South East Asian (SEA) Games to be held in Myanmar in December.

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Sen. Pia Cayetano, during the committee hearing on the status of the country’s preparations for the Southeast Asian Games, questioned sports officials regarding its selection process after learning that the Dragon Boat team as well as women’s volleyball and men’s football teams will not be joining this year’s SEA Games.

Cayetano said that although she understands the limitations and restrictions of Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) regarding the selection of athletes endorsed by the National Sports Associations (NSAs), deserving athletes should not be left behind.

“We’re asking them [PSC and POC] to go the extra mile and we’d like to think that they will be doing that because they would have our support,” Cayetano said in an interview after the committee hearing last week.

Noelle Wenceslao, assistant team captain of the Dragon Boat team, said that the entire team was “terminated” by the Philippine Canoe Kayak Federation (PCKF), after the team raised some complaints against an official.

Wenceslao believes that their termination could be part of the retaliation of the PCKF official they questioned.

The POC headed by Jose “Peping” Cojuangco has formed an arbitration committee to look into the complaint of the dragon boat team in July but it has yet to come up with a resolution.

Besides the Dragon Boat team, the women’s volleyball team and the men’s football team were also denied of their chance to represent the country in the SEA games supposedly because of their poor performance in the past.

Cayetano said that the Philippine Volleyball Federation has been hounded by various issues for years but this should not be the reason why the volleyball team is performing poorly.

“It is not the fault of volley ball players why the NSA is having an issue and it is the obligation of the government and the POC, as an independent body, to promote the sport and intervene to resolve the issue,” the senator pointed out.

Cayetano noted that the PSC and POC should allow teams to get the chance to compete in order for them to gain the needed exposure.

Meanwhile, Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara filed a resolution seeking to look into the current state of Philippine sports to address the need for a “long-term, stakeholder-driven and sustainable” sports program.

Angara said that his bill seeks to adopt a framework for a sustainable and ambitious program aimed at achieving success not only in the Southeast Asian (SEA) and Asian Games but in the Olympics.

Angara lamented that the Philippines has yet to win an Olympic gold medal. The Philippines last Olympic victory was the historic silver medal in boxing in 1996.

He said that the first thing the government should do is to invest more in sports.

According to the senator, Singapore and Indonesia allocated P8.5 billion each for their national sports program, while Thailand allotted P4.2 billion and Malaysia P1.2 billion.

The Philippine government allocated only P883 million for its sports program.

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