Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William “Butch” Ramirez wants the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (PATAFA) to review its grassroots programs after the country finished sixth overall in the 12th Southeast Asian Youth Athletics Championships in Ilagan City, Isabela.
The PSC chief hopes the athletics group will review its strategies in terms of uplifting its grassroots development plan after the Philippines had only one gold medal to show in the international tournament.
The Filipino tracksters bagged one gold, nine silver and 15 bronze medals in the Southeast Asian Youth meet with Francis Edward Obiena providing the lone shining moment after winning the gold in the boys’ pole vault event.
“It’s really something we should look into seriously. It is an opportunity for the national sports association (NSA) to rethink about their strategy,” said Ramirez.
Vietnam dominated the meet with a 13-8-0 (gold-silver-bronze) haul followed by Malaysia (6-6-6) and Indonesia (6-2-4).
Ramirez clarified that they are not meddling with the affairs of PATAFA and that the PSC is always ready to give the sports association the support it needs in terms of finding new talents.
“We have this plan to hold regional games to have a vast selection of athletes in provincial LGUs (local government units),” he added.
One of the plans is to strengthen the regional games like Batang Pinoy and the Philippine National Games so that NSAs will have a rich source of potential members of the national team.
The only area of concern for the PSC is budget.
“We’ll see how things will work for us. We are here to support our national athletes,” he said.
Meanwhile, association president Philip Ella Juico said one of PATAFA’s grassroots programs, the Kids Athletics (KA), aims to encourage children to get into athletics.
KA is a program that emphasizes fun and teamwork rather than dog-eat-dog and incentives systems, which Juico mentioned pertaining to present youth competitions.
“The fun aspect shouldn’t be removed. [That is why] we are implementing Kids Athletics in partial response,” Juico said. “At a certain age, 15 and beyond, we get them to the national team and expose them to international competition. But do not let them specialize prematurely.”
PATAFA will request the Department of Education (DepEd) to include Kids Athletics in the Physical Education curriculum to encourage more youth participation.
Juico said in order to strengthen youth programs; it must be a collaboration between the NSA, the DepEd, and the Department of Interior and Local Government with the intervention of sports science.
JEAN RUSSEL V. DAVID