PSL’s grassroots program to continue in 2015

BANNER YEAR FOR PSL  Philippine Swimming League (PSL) President Susan Papa and Secretary General Maria Susan Benasa with the swimmers and coach of the PSL. CONTRIBUTED BY JOAN MOJDEH

Philippine Swimming League (PSL) President Susan Papa and Secretary General Maria Susan Benasa with the swimmers and coach of the PSL. CONTRIBUTED BY JOAN MOJDEH

The Philippine Swimming League, the national sports swimming association of the Federation of School Sports Associations of the Philippines (FESSAP), which is affiliated with the Federation International Sports University (FISU), has a productive and super year 2014.

The Philippine Swimming League continues its “service with a heart” on a grassroots program designed to support the goal of coaches, swimmers and parents to produce champions out of young boys and girls.

The PSL Year 2014 started giving regional seminars for its coaches and swimmers on technical rules.

It also recognizes deserving swimmers and coaches for the year and even former swimmers and coaches that contributed to the sport of swimming.

PSL president Susan Papa who was behind a move five years ago to democratize swimming in the Philippines through her advocacy of “sports for all”, has succeeded, with the help of fellow sports advocate Sen. Nikki Coseteng and human rights lawyers Harry Roque and Ma. Luz Arzaga Mendoza, who is also the legal counsel of FISU, to unmask PhilSwimming’s sports development program which is actually a “sports for the few”, intended for paying PASA members only.

The policy, which PhilSwimming continues to impose on swimmers, from the grassroots to the highest levels, has barred PSL members from joining national tryouts and has also suspended members who compete in non-PhilSwim-sanctioned competitions here and abroad.

PhilSwimming continues to brand non-member organizations like PSL as “colorum and bogus organizations” and non-member swimmers in the same manner, shutting the door on such swimmers desiring to compete in the Asian Games, Southeast Asian Games and other international competitions.

It has effectively denied organizations and swimmers outside PhilSwimming the right to conduct and participate in tournaments, train swimmers and get a chance to join national tryouts for international competitions.

Only PhilSwimming members are given exemptions by the PSC, such as travel tax and airport fees for international travel. Only PASA and its members receive allowances and other incentives from the PSC to defray part of the cost for training and travel.

Still, the PSL has continued to pursue its monthly competitions without government help.

During the last five years, PhilSwimming, formerly the Philippine Amateur Swimming Association, had not conducted national tryouts and chose the international participants by invitation. PASA swimmers had failed in the Olympics, Asiad and SEA Games.

Papa said the PSL is 70 percent free from the hands of unrighteous leaders.

“I’m happy to see a lot of competitions on-going and PSC-POC must just open the gates in the selection process, under its “sports for all” policy,” she said.

Parent Joan Mojdeh said, “There are so many changes now. The fact that everybody is trying to organize swim competitions left and right here in the Philippines makes swimming more democratized. It means a lot of people are finally waking up. There is hope for the younger swimmers that we are training now. Because finally, the parents and swimmers are being educated. And we will not stand by and watch them bully our kids anymore. We are finally doing something unlike before.”

Competitions have since been on-going on a regular monthly basis ‘til the end of December.

PSL 2014 calendar includes international competitions and seminars:

January – Pacific Swim Coaches’ Clinic (Napa, California, USA), February – Western Province Senior League 7 Gala (Cape Town, South Africa), April – Indian Ocean All Stars Challenge (Perth, Australia), May – Standard Chartered Stingrays Invitational Meet (Hong Kong), August – 10th SICC Invitational Swimming Championship (Singapore), September-ASCA World Clinic (Jacksonville, Florida, USA) and 20th SSC Open Invitational Midget Meet (Singapore), November – 16th RBSC Invitation Swim Meet (Bangkok, Thailand).

“Our secret is to work with our heart and soul, righteousness and just and fair system,” said Papa.

“Coseteng is also there for PSL to watch our side. She’s our human shield and protector for righteousness.”

Organizing around eight international competitions and 20 local and regional competitions does not come easy. It takes a lot of sacrifice, but PSL Sec. Gen. Susan Benasa, Secretariat Guia Llaguno and technical head Alfredo Mascardo Jr., made significant contributions together with the members of the board, to make the entire PSL organization work.

Private companies and entities who chip in to PSL’s swimmng program are nd not to be forgotten, some help coming from Magnolia, Aqua Sphere, Mojdeh, Alvarez, Baltazar, Pupos, Del Rosario, and Mahiwo.

Fighting for the cause of harassed swimmers and parent, the PSL also this year, through Papa and Coseteng, filed graft and corruption charges against PSC which denied swimmers and officials’ tax exemptions.

Parent, Marjorie Giron said, “This is not just about money, medals or trophies, it’s about human rights and the saddest thing is how these people are shattering the dreams of these athletes who work and train hard to bring honor and glory for the country.

Claire Adorna was developed by PSL and now the greatest female triathlon athlete in the country, and so with Paula Cayanan who was offered scholarship and is now in Japan for a three-year program.

Things are looking up for swimming in 2015.


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