Philippine Sports Commission chairman, William “Butch” Ramirez Tuesday said the Philippines’ overall performance in the just concluded 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam is surely ”nothing to be ashamed of.”
“Our performance in bringing home 52 gold, 70 silver, and 104 bronze medals, in placing fourth overall in the medal standings was a good finish despite the various challenges our national athletes had to face amid the Covid-19 pandemic before competing in Vietnam,” Ramirez said.
“It would have been a very good finish had we converted 50 percent of our silvers (to gold) and bronzes (to silver),” noted Ramirez who closely monitored the games. He also pointed out that funding training programs to develop elite athletes for international competition is expensive.
“You need money for coaches, both local and foreign, airfare, transportation and hotel for international exposure to season them, plus the logistical support like proper nutrition, sports psychology, and medicine for athletes discovered abroad or locally,” he added.
As someone who began his stint in the PSC as a commissioner in 1998, then as chairman for the first time from 2005 to 2009, and then as chairman again from 2016 to the present, Ramirez said short-term programs to nurture top athletes last at least four years. And 12 years if they are really honed to be truly world-class, ans they must start young.
Ramirez said one prime example is weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, who was a wildcard entry at 17 in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, then won a silver in the 2016 Rio Games before finally delivering the country’s first gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics last year when she was 30 years old.
The PSC chief Commissioners also reminded others that the government’s sports agency does not only support national athletes but also implement a genuine grassroots sports program in the countryside in cooperation with the Department of Education and local government units.
“The PSC will never achieve its grassroots goals without our partners in the DepEd and LGUs,” he pointed out as he renewed his commitment and support “to our private partners, the Philippine Olympic Committee and the National Sports Association,” in promoting and nurturing athletes for international play.
Ramirez said that while the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. has given the PSC’s high remittances before the pandemic, it still has to get sufficient funds support as required under Republic Act 6847 that created the sports agency.
“This gross income needs to be remitted by PAGCOR to the PSC so we can fund these two fundamental purposes the government sports agency was created for,” he said.
Ramirez likewise said the Philippine Sports Institute needs adequate government funds to pursue its goals of updating the country’s know-how in sports medicine and technology, including the improved sports rehabilitation facilities, in keeping abreast with the rest of the world.
He mentioned that the country’s success in the Tokyo Olympics, where Filipinos achieved milestones of one gold by Diaz, two silvers by boxers Carlo Paalam and Nesthy Petecio, and a bronze by fellow pugilist Eumir Felix Marcial, were products of intensive training and exposure overseas funded by the PSC.
He expressed hope the PSC allocation in the national budget, a portion of which goes to grassroots sports, would be increased in tune with the times.
Ramirez also expressed his gratitude to private sector entities like the MVP Sports Foundation in helping some national sports associations (NSAs) and encouraging more institutions and personalities to chip in and recognize the value of investing in the development of athletes.
As one of the architects of the country’s successful campaigns in the Tokyo and Rio Olympics, 2018 Asian Games and 2019 Philippine SEA Games, Ramirez credited these positive results to the “dedicated PSC Board of Commissioners which collaborate with our stakeholders.”