The Nakhon Ratchasima games are now over. The Philippines finished at a dismal sixth place and the customary finger-pointing is escalating. Truthfully, I don’t care anymore. It has been long since I cared. Even in the middle of the competition there have been whispers among the Southeast Asians that our medal harvest when we hosted the games two years ago could have been a result of the homecourt advantage or even cheating.
Of course we could say the same thing now versus the Thais. In fact, even before the games began, there were already reports of sudden changes of schedule, snafus in administration and others to unhinge the Philippines’ campaign.
Like England when it comes to Europe, we are outsiders to the Indo-china region. Most of our neighbors are side by side in geography aside from having similar religions, languages, and ethnic origins. They’d rather look out for each other than give us a fair shake.
We were a power in Asia even before they learned many of these games we play. But decades of erosion due to government corruption (including the sport associations), negligence, the lack of organization, and the emphasis on basketball has greatly set back Philippine sports. Some have called for the concentration on the sports where we are traditionally strong like basketball, billiards, and boxing. The “B-sports” as we call it. Even so, in the last Olympics, our boxers had to share trunks during competitions. So what kind of support is that? And for that matter should we stop sending teams from other sports? Oh, right. We didn’t have a men’s football team this time around. Well that’s nothing you don’t know already, right?
So here’s what maybe we can do.
1) Replace all our sports leaders from all agencies. Every last one of them. It’s time for a blood transfusion. The longer these people become entrenched in the sport, it becomes their personal fiefdom. Get younger people to run things with a mandate for real change in three or four years with the barometer being the immediate SEA Games and other competitions. Their tenure will be scrutinized by a review panel based on merit and output. Not the number of allies they have in the regional associations.
2)Get major corporations to sponsor certain teams or sports (with certain checks and balances). Give them tax cuts in return. After all, those taxes are not spent wisely anyway and end up in some jackass’ pockets. No politicos please. They use the sport for photo ops when they know nothing anyway. After all they should concentrate or implementing laws and effecting positive change, not going to Las Vegas when our boxers have a fight. Use Trillanes’ pork barrel to sponsor these teams. He doesn’t need it anyway.
3)Rather than send some of our athletes for training abroad for a few weeks (believe me it helps but when they get back here, our facilities are so bad, the routine light miles away that they lapse back into old habits), bring over foreign coaches/consultants say – a Brazilian for football, a Chinese national for gymnastics or swimming, and the Japanese for baseball. And get others who are true world champions of their sports. They will immediately be able to identify what’s wrong with our technique and what needs to be done. And their recommendations should be given immediate support (of course with proper review). Look our local coaches had their chances too right? If we can send our nurses, doctors, and engineers abroad to steal their jobs they can do the same too. Screw those rights about pure Filipinos in these professions. We ask for independence from the United States but everyone scampers to get a visa and a green card if possible.
4)Get that homegrown program in place (tap the schools as centers of excellence) and limit the inclusion of the Fil-foreigners in our competitions. If they show up only for the games then how do we know about their readiness and if they truly play for flag and country? If they are serious about that then they should stay here and train with everyone else.
5)If our best athletes do not compete in the games (I know our billiards players save themselves for the pro competitions where there is serious money to be made), do not invite them at all for national team duty. Not even a one-time experience.
6)The only professional league we have is basketball. Time to have one in football and volleyball folks. If it becomes a reality then you will see the young train hard to become the best they can be because they have something they can graduate to after their education.
7)Oh, yes. An education. We should look after them because once their past their prime, what’s next? Another poor and impoverished athlete living in squalor bitter against the world.
8)Get a national sports center somewheres. All the offices will be located there so any information can be accessed immediately. Time for those old arenas like the Rizal Memorial Coliseum to be demolished with new and modern structures put in place. It’s a landmark, you old timers say? Look if they can take away the Christmas palabas at the old COD in Cubao and do away with the Fiesta Carnival then anything is possible.
9)And lastly, get better television coverage for the international sports events. Enough of the crappy NBN-4. And no channel 2. The last thing we need is showbiz in sports with Dyan Castillejo telling us what this athlete had for breakfast. Please.
Guess what? I still do care.