… Or why the heart is not enough to heal the ailing system of sports development in the Philippines
By Kristian Gerard A. Bruel
Filipinos are naturally in love with the idea of sports. In fact, we are very passionate about it. A perfect example is that of basketball. In almost every street in the Philippines, you will see a basketball court filled with kids and adults just enjoying the beauty of the game. Most of them are dreaming to be the next Jimmy Alapag of the country and be that person who will represent the country and make his countrymen scream for the glory of the Philippines in sports.
Filipinos are very blessed in terms of the competitive spirit, drive, and motivation to excel in sports. Needless to say, we’ve got very talented athletes who are pouring their hearts out in the sport they fell in love with. And as what their motto implies: LABAN PILIPINAS! PUSO! However, heart is not enough. The Philippine national athletes are not being given enough assistance by the government. Some even pay for their own training, food, and fare, in order to represent the country in international competitions. Take for example Michael Martinez, a figure-skater who turned out to be the only athlete to represent the Philippines in the 2014 Winter Olympics. He trained on his lonesome and solicited money from his friends, colleagues, and private entities just to get enough money for the fare and allowance in the Olympics.
As a sports-minded individual that shares the same passion for Philippine Sports as other Filipinos do, I decided to conduct a thesis on the plight of the Philippine National Athletes. My study is entitled: (un) JUST PUSO: Why the Heart is Not Enough to Heal the Ailing System of Sports Development in the Philippines A Study on the Plight Of Philippine National Athletes. This thesis focused on the level of sports development that the country has reached and the current state of our national athletes.
Upon the rigorous data gathering procedures conducted, including key-informant interviews, surveys, and case studies, I came to find things that are very shocking and unacceptable as an advocate for Philippine sports. Based on the conducted interviews with experts, such as heads of National Sports Associations (NSAs), coaches, national athletes, government officials, and Philippine Sports officials, they testified that there was no significant improvement in the sports development of the country in many years. There was no upgrade in the facilities and equipment for the preparation of athletes in international competitions.
Also, the rights of the national athletes are taken for granted. They don’t get to exercise their right and get the right benefits they are entitled to. What is worse is that some national athletes who continue to sacrifice not only their time but their entire life are being harassed and are being used as means to other sports officials’ ends of corruption and politicking. Such case was experienced by the Philippine Dragon Boat Team that brought the country pride and honor by winning various international competitions, and yet they became victims of politicking and corruption of sports institutions that should have primarily been taking care of them.
To cite another example of politicking in the industry…
“I cannot say specifically, pero there is such a thing as hometown decision. ‘Di ba merong ganun ever since before, like a home court decision. It’s not something bad, kumbaga may home court advantage. We cannot deny that there are- maski saang insititution siguro- there is politics. Hindi mo matatanggal yan, but it should not prevail, because sports is genuine human effort out of blood sweat and tears ng isang tao, kapag pinasukan mo ng politics then all of that is parang set aside eh, which is unfair. Siyempre sports talks about fairness, sportsmanship.”
–National Team Training Director
Overall, factors such as funding, corruption, politicking, lack of better management and leadership, lack of focus, and geography have been the main culprits of the slow development of sports in the country.
On a more positive note, I conducted a survey among Filipino people and the result was a true testament to how much the Filipinos love our national athletes. Most of the respondents said that they were more than willing to support our national athletes no matter how they perform, win or lose. They also know that national athletes deserve more benefits and incentives in order for them to succeed and get better in representing the Philippines. The survey results proved that the support system national athletes get from their fellow Filipinos matters. As what the athletes said during my interviews with them, the pain of training and hardships they encounter all vanish once they hear their fellow Filipinos cheer for them.
In conclusion, I recommended the integration of the PSC and POC and the construction of an entirely separate government institution—a Department for Sports. This shall increase sports development in the country in various facets. As for the uplifting of the national athletes, I recommend having Sports Regional Training Centers (SRTCs) and the full implementation of the Philippine Academy of Sports (PHAS) in order to train the youth that has the potential of bringing home the elusive Olympic gold for the country.
But before implementing all these, the Philippine government must first appreciate the effort national athletes put into training and competing for the country. It is their role to provide them benefits and incentives that they are entitled to.
“Stop being corrupt.”
-National Athlete, Tennis
“Please be Fair.”
-National Athlete, Women’s Basketball
“Giving more support won’t hurt you.”
-National Athlete, Swimming
“Please continue to support us athletes, and also please improved the facilities because not just us will make use of those facilities but also the younger and next future athletes/pride of our country.”
-National Athlete, Triathlon
“I think support should be divided equally to sports that have the same potential. Attention is just mainly focused on basketball, soccer and boxing and there is so much politics going on between the government officials which affects or hinders the overall development of the athletes.”
-National Athlete, Tennis
“Dapat dagdagan (suporta ng gobyerno). Saka dapat dagdagan ang allowance ng mga athlete, kasi minsan bitin allowance ng mga athlete, eh yung iba magagaling umuuwi o nagaabroad kasi mas malaki yung bigayan doon so nawawalan tayo ng ibang atleta.”
-Former National Athlete and Silver Medalist
After finishing the entire study, I can’t hide how deeply disappointed I am of the current state of Philippine Sports. By conducting this study, I have found out that in the past administration, the Philippine government does not see sports as a tool for development. In fact, sports is not prioritized. This study also went beyond knowing the current plight of national athletes but also provided an in depth analysis of the athletes’ welfare in terms of funding, government assistance, PSC and POC management, and other factors. It also proved that sports has a direct link with development and that it could be a vital tool towards promoting unity and “belongingness.” However, this is not being considered by those in power. In short, sports development in the country is nowhere to be found and that national athletes who are supposed to be taken care of as part of the core of Philippine sports are being marginalized in various extents.
As a longtime supporter and as a Filipino, I certainly hope that this study helps our national athletes in advancing all their concerns. The heart is not enough indeed, but our heart is what triggers us to change what we know is not right. That’s why I call each Filipino to support our national athletes and help them fight for their rights. They are not just national athletes that carry the name of our country in every international competition they compete in, but they are also heroes that decided to give up their life for the glory of Philippines in the arena of sports.
Kristian Gerard A. Bruel is an advocate of Philippine Sports Development and uplifting the situation of National Athletes. He graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelors Degree on Development Studies from the University of the Philippines, Manila. He looks forward to helping the country in improving its sports development programs and making a difference in the lives of the national athletes that continues to be his idols in terms of the passion, perseverance, and heart they put into representing the country. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for inquiries.
Made possible by the team work between Empowering Women & Girls Through Sports, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State, and espnW, the Global Sports Mentoring Program (GSMP) has become one of the most successful efforts to empower women and girls all over the world since its inception in 2012.
Particularly in the Philippines, the Sport Management Council of the Philippines (Sportphil) recently led a Sports Envoy program. “From September 28 to October 3 of 2015, Geraldine (Bernardo) co-hosted Sports Envoys Michelle Goodall and Eric Hodgson from USA Volleyball in the second GSMP-Sports Envoy crossover program,” the article states.
Read the article by Brian Canever in full here.
by Erick Fabian Sr.
“We cannot expect others to adhere to high ethical standards if we do not do so ourselves. We cannot expect proper conduct on the field of play if we do not have good governance within the Olympic Family.” – Jacques Rogge, Congress Opening Ceremony Speech, XIII Olympic Congress Copenhagen 2009
As each sporting activity is unique and possesses a different set of rules in comparison to another form of competitive athletics, sports governing bodies were established to oversee the establishment of official game rules. These organizations also serve as a channel for experts of a particular sport to gather and make crucial decisions on gameplay changes and how athletes organize themselves for competitions.
Groups such as sports federations and professional sports leagues that engage in any Olympic-listed sport are required by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to comply with their regulatory code, the IOC Universal Principles of Good Governance. In contrast to the more localized jurisdiction of sports governing bodies, the IOC monitors Olympic sporting groups all over the world. The organization ensures that each country’s athlete development methods comply with the IOC standards.
Guardians of Credibility
The IOC enforces these governance principles on both national and international sports organizations to maintain a modicum of fair play and ethical behavior in the global sports community. The Olympic committee also actively addresses corruption in involved groups, often by supporting ethics committees when it comes to disciplining and penalizing members who engage in bribery, illegal drug use, and other unethical actions.
The IOC also compels organizations to apply their governance code when it comes to evaluating their decision-making procedures. Dysfunctional sporting organizations are enjoined to reform their ranks so as to regain lost credibility in the world sporting community.
Transparency and accountability is encouraged when it comes to how sports groups run themselves, whether it be on dealing with criminal behavior among athletes and officials. This also applies in ensuring fairness when it comes to selecting qualified competing athletes for Olympic events.
One recent case was when IOC president Thomas Bach called out FIFA to reorganize after the suspension of its four officials: president Sepp Blatter, secretary general Jerome Valcke, former vice president Chung Mong-joon, and aspiring presidential candidate Michel Platini.
Blatter was FIFA president for 17 years. The FIFA ethics committee had him suspended due to allegations that the Swiss mis-sold a World Cup TV rights contract to the disgraced former FIFA official Jack Warner in 2006, and made a “disloyal payment” of £1.3m to Platini in 2011.
International sports events and activities are held back from completely benefitting both athletes and their respective societies when there is poor governance. Unethical practices and corruption can leech from resources meant for developing potential athletes. These people are also short-changed and harmed when corrupt practices are not actively responded to.
While many organizations may not necessarily behave in a corrupt manner, inefficient management of organizational resources do not just damage the reputation of sporting bodies but also contributes to the devaluing of many hard-working athletes’ efforts. It also reflects on the political stability of the organization’s home country.
One possible reason for poor governance in sport groups is the slow development in mostly voluntary organizations, which have to be professionalized and regulated so that it can adapt well into the rapid modernization and commercial exploitation of the sports industry. Another reason can be that sports organizations usually operate independently from their respective national governments.
At the same time, national governments usually end up intervening only when they perceive that the sports governing body is inefficiently run. The IOC stands on the fact that a sport organization’s autonomy should be earned through public respect, by showcasing its capability to successfully manage its resources and properly allocate needed funds to answer the needs of its athletic trainees.
After all, it will only be within reason for national governments to require convincing results from sports groups because it is still the primary source of funding for most of them. Even corporate-sponsored groups are accountable to their private benefactors because they have to convince sponsors that they are worthy investments by showing that the organization has a semblance of good governance.
While sports scandals and poor governance are nothing new, the issue of sports governance garnered serious public attention during the 1990s after sports academicians and broadcast media considered the topic worth investigating, as these controversies often involve high-profile people with financial and political interests.
National governments and private business entities that sponsor athletes also became involved, because the former mostly wanted justification for public expenditures. The latter needed evidence for their stockholders to be convinced that athletic sponsorships can bring in a significant return of investment.
The IOC initiated the Agenda 2020 in 2014, which included a Working Group on Good Governance and Autonomy. Among their recommendations, this one is concerned with sports governance: “All organizations belonging to the Olympic Movement to accept and comply with the Basic Universal Principles of Good Governance of the Olympic and Sports Movement (“PGG”).”
Among the principles touted by the IOC governance code, transparency, responsibility and accountability are emphasized to be mandatory for sporting bodies that are Olympic constituents. This means that, regardless of physical location and situational context, the sports group carrying the name of the Olympic Games will be expected to abide by its code of ethics. Any behavior contrary to the IOC’s principles will be penalized even if not directly related to sports activities. Some of the principles guided by the code include the following:
- Transparent practices in creating rules for the organization, in dealing with finances, in operating procedures, and for it to be audited by a qualified, independent entity. Overall management is also expected to be transparent in their transactions.
- Efficient internal communication is also a must, to avoid mismanagement and to expedite operation procedures. Management decisions are expected to be shared responsibilities rather than individual decisions.
- Officials and office-holders are expected to provide clear and regular reporting to the Olympics committee. The election of these officials should be on a regular basis and legitimate (in accordance to the Olympic principles).
- Involved sports organizations and their individual members are given the right to appeal about all forms of disciplinary measures.
- People belonging to specific ethnic minorities are to be respected by the sport governing body, and the right to free speech is also to be respected. This means that officials should be willing to listen to and address grievances by members and other concerned individuals without censoring them.
- The organization’s decision-makers are also expected to avoid conflicts of interest especially when such will prove to be disruptive to the organization’s operations.This includes an official’s relationships outside the group, that can influence the sports organization’s decisions to their advantage.
- Money received through Olympic sources should be spent only for Olympic-related purposes is another aspect of the code worthy of highlighting.
by Erick Fabian Sr.
On the right to be called ‘Team Philippines’
There will come a time when lines have to be drawn and the elephant in the room—the proper usage of ‘Team Philippines’—has to be addressed by the Philippine Sports Commission and other related organizations, both government and civic. Sports teams and even non-athletic organizations left and right have been observed to claim the title, to the point that it is becoming confusing as to which group one is referring to.
We are not simply talking about every athletic league being trained and sent by the government to compete with other countries. They have all the right to call themselves ‘Team Philippines’ because they are not only representing themselves—they are representing the aspirations of a country.
Even local groups who compete in international tournaments, whether it be chess, hip-hop dancing, or competitive video gaming, can use the name for as long as they are flag carriers, setting aside their personal agendas and making the cause of the Filipino people their first priority.
It is those organizations and individuals with intentions unrelated to national concerns that should be subjected to criticism. When they use ‘Team Philippines’ only because it can garner them influence and credibility, then it is a deceptive act that does not benefit the country in the long run, no matter how noble their intentions are.
As public momentum gained by the recently held 2015 FIBA Asia Championship and the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the issue of who should be using the name should be settled soon. Not doing so would show a fragmented front, a disunity that Filipino culture has been notorious of since the nation was born.
Should the name be copyrighted? It will definitely help if sports organizations around the country can consolidate their efforts on this, in the least, for the sake of future sports teams that will represent the Philippines in the global arena.
‘Team Philippines’ carries with it the connotation that you and your fellow athletes are doing it for a higher cause. It has a certain ring to it that the public easily responds to. One thing you can expect Pinoys to do is to root for our national sports teams when they compete abroad.
The average Juan and Maria off the street can and do identify with our efforts at making a name for our country, especially in world sports. One look at Pacquiao’s career and it is glaringly obvious.
Even supposed locally slow-catching sports such as rugby and soccer are gaining more fans, especially from Filipino millennials who are more exposed to a varied palette of sports entertainment than their elders. They see their peers from abroad get behind their own national teams with such fervor, and they are looking for something that they can also identify with among their fellow Filipinos. This is another reason why proper use of the name matters.
At the moment, the name is being carelessly bandied about by groups with questionable motives, mostly online. Not that there are no sports teams using it properly, as in the case of those athletes who represented the country in the 2015 SEA Games.
Allowing just anyone to take the name for their purposes betrays the premise of being a team that supposedly has the nation’s best interests at heart. It is a disservice to those who are sincere in representing the best that all Filipinos can offer the world, because it is the nation’s reputation being put on the line.
One way to determine who has the right to the name is to consider the point of view of the various groups with a stake on the name. A survey can be conducted to help consolidate impressions on what a National Team should be, and where everyone’s expectations overlap.
The public’s perception of what ‘Team Philippines’ means to them should also be taken into account. To them, it probably is any person or group that excels in any sport, alongside the national favorite Bs: basketball, billiards, boxing, and bowling.
When these people compete in international events, they represent the country, as in the case of Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes and Django Bustamante on billiards years before. People live vicariously through them when their games are being televised.
To other non-elite athletes, the name signifies any group that competes in sporting events abroad, for as long as they are carrying the flag and representing the country. These people bring pride to the Filipino people as well.
To the corporate sponsors, it mostly means whoever it is they endorse to compete in Olympic-sanctioned events. They are more likely to support a national team whose members are already brand endorsers.
We have to ask the pervasive question: Who has the final say on what ‘Team Philippines’ should be? That in itself deserves a separate discussion, and will be dealt with in a separate article.
We cannot put to risk all of these great aspirations, alongside opportunities to inspire national unity, if a name with so much public faith invested in it can just be used wantonly, at the whim of any group and individual looking for public attention and renown.
‘Team Philippines’ might just lose its meaning and influence by then, and we will have wasted an opportunity to unite a people otherwise given to regionalist tendencies and political factionalism, considering that sports is one effective way to get Filipinos into thinking that they are fellow Filipinos to each other, despite their differences.
by Erick A. Fabian Sr.
A look into the rewards that National Training Program members should be getting from the government, then and now.
Republic Act 9064: A needed boost
In 2001, former President Gloria Arroyo signed the Republic Act 9064—also known as the “National Athletes, Coaches and Trainers Benefits and Incentives Act of 2001,” or “Sports Benefits and Incentives Act of 2001”—a law meant to benefit Filipino athletes and sports professionals.
The purpose of the Act was to “promote excellence in sports and through sports by providing for the welfare of national athletes, coaches and trainers competing for the country and particular benefits and incentives for those who have brought honor and recognition to the country by winning in international competitions.”
As the said law states, deserving recipients registered under the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) are to be given “cash and other non-monetary benefits to national athletes, coaches, and trainers”. Some of the specific incentives are the following:
- Twenty percent (20%) discount from all establishments relative to the utilization of transportation services, hotels, and other lodging establishments, restaurants and recreation centers and purchase of medicine and sports equipment anywhere in the country.
- Minimum of twenty percent (20%) discount on admission fees charged by theaters, cinema houses and concert halls, circuses, carnivals, and other similar places of culture, leisure and amusement.
- Free medical and dental consultations in private or public hospitals and similar establishments anywhere in the country and medical insurance program to be provided by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC).
- A comprehensive social security program to be formulated by the Social Security System within one hundred eighty (180) days from the approval of this Act.
- Priority in existing livelihood programs being undertaken by various government agencies subject to the guidelines and qualifications by the implementing body
- Priority in national housing programs, affordable “pabahay” loans and other housing opportunities subject to the guidelines and qualifications set by the National Housing Authority (NHA) or the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF).
- Other benefits included scholarships, death benefits, and retirement benefits, with family beneficiaries as well.
All in all, it was a well-stated law with admirable intentions. As with every law, though, its power is only as effective as how it is enforced.
According to sports writer Neil Bravo, it took nine years since its legislation to be actually be enforced, under the administration of President Aquino. It encountered several problems along the way. The government agencies involved are having a hard time coordinating with each other in allocating the benefits.
It also had its share of controversies. What was meant to benefit all national athletes competing for the country turned out to be discriminatory in its choice of recipients. Longtime sports journalist and sports TV commentator Joaquin M. Henson opined in his August 6, 2003 article, written for his Philstar column “Sporting Chance,” that “[the] scope of the law…is limited. It defines the competitions under review as the Olympics, quadrennial World Championships, the Asian Games and the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. That means no recognition for annual or biennial events such as the Bowling World Cup and the World Pool Championships, which are both yearly jousts. RA 9064 also rules out recognition for athletes who earn prize money. In effect, the coverage is strictly for athletes who compete under the aegis of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).”
While it is still lauded as a step in the right direction when it comes to improving the poor state of the sports industry in the Philippines, it is in need of several improvements, alongside its enforcement, in order to become a beneficial reality for Pinoy athletes.
Even Inquirer sports columnist Manolo R. Iñigo put in his two cents by saying that the R.A. 9064 is unfair to non-Olympic sports. There are several international sports competitions that Filipino athletes join in that requires the same amount of hard work and training as the Olympic sports. A sports incentives law, in other words, should be inclusive and wider in its scope in order to be successful in improving the country’s sports industry.
Enter House Bill 5912
Last August 2015, the House of Representatives approved the third reading of House Bill 5912, also known as the National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Law. The bill is intended to repeal RA 9064 and to expand its scope to include all types of sports competitions.
If finally passed into law, it should provide benefits and incentives for national athletes and other athletes who win in international sports competitions, as they represent a positive side of the country in the international arena.
Rep. Anthony G. Del Rosario, chairperson of the House Committee on Youth and Sports Development, promises that “The bill will expand the coverage of incentives granted to national athletes and coaches in a bid to promote excellence in sports and looking after the welfare of national athletes and coaches competing for the country.”
The lawmaker added that the bill increases the incentives granted to national athletes and coaches, while also expanding into the coverage of international sports competitions. Unlike RA 9064 though, this one excludes trainers from being beneficiaries of the incentives and benefits. More so, athletes with disabilities are now added to the definition of ‘national athletes’.
HB 5912 is more inclusive as it defines national athletes as athletes of Filipino citizenship, who are members of the national training pool, accredited by the POC and the PSC. It includes athletes with disabilities recognized and accredited by the National Paralympic Committee (NPC) and the PSC, and who have represented the country in international sports competition as Team Philippines.
For one, under the measure the national athletes who have represented the country in international sports competitions, recognized and accredited by the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) as Team Philippines, who won gold, silver and bronze medals in international sports competitions shall be entitled to cash awards.
The other perks are similar to the ones previously stated in RA 9064, but this bill promises to have more enforcement weight to it. Some of those expansions include:
- Tax deduction, instead of tax credit to private establishments for giving 20% discounts to the athletes and coaches.
- Penalties and fines for any person, corporation or juridical person for non-compliance of the 20% discount granted to the national athletes and coaches is also provided in the measure.
- Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHILHEALTH) benefit through PSC sponsorship and makes the athletes honorary member at the age of 55 while the coach at the age of 60.
- Winning national athletes are entitled to scholarship benefits, and would likewise be given priority by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA).
While this bill is indeed an improvement on the old one, the enforcement issue remains. Hopefully, Pinoy athletes will see its promises fulfilled soon and that our hard-working sports professionals are given their due. If it does happen, we can once more look forward to a raise in national morale and an improved Philippine athletics industry, and consequently, a progress in our nation-building efforts.
For more information on both RA 9064 and HB 5912:
Quality, daily physical education in schools not only reduces obesity amongst our children, but it improves academic performance. With more than 40 years in the field of education, Zientarski has created a highly successful program called the Learning Readiness Physical Education (LRPE) program at Naperville Central High School. The program has produced such dramatic improvements in test scores, behavior and childhood obesity that it has inspired adoption in school districts from across the country and around the world, including Denmark, China, South Korea and Canada. His program has been highlighted on major TV networks and featured in documentary films. Zientarski shares his educational philosophy and programs with audiences nationwide, including the President’s Council on Health, Fitness and Nutrition in Washington, D.C.
By Dina Bernardo, SportPhil Founder
The Philippines sustained numerous devastation in 2013. Below are four (4) relief efforts that used sports to give affected places something to root for past their post-disaster problems.
Can Sport be the Answer?
Since 2002, the Swiss Academy for Development (SAD) have researched and documented the timely and purposeful administration of sports for relief in post-disaster and post-conflict situations. In a country ridden with disasters, the Philippines is wanting of local examples and research to support the benefits of sport.
The Sport Management Council of the Philippines (SportPhil) has been a strong advocate of Sport for Development. It has harnessed local sport scientists and psychology experts to launch a program building the capacity of teachers and coaches in the use sport for psychosocial relief, aptly coined “RePlay, ReLive and ReCreate – Community Resilience through Sports” or R3.
- With the Korean New Sports Association – September 1 and 2, 2014, in St. Therese Educational Foundation of Tacloban Inc. (STEFTI)
Synopsis from YouTube channel video
The Philippines sustained the world’s strongest typhoon last November 8, 2013. To date, many are still homeless and in despair.
Heeding the call to help through sports, AASM member Prof. Hyungil Kwon of Chung Ang University gathered his students and partnered with Korean New Sports Association, International Sports Relations Foundation (ISR) and Samsung to train teachers from Bethel International School and St. Therese Educational Foundation of Tacloban Inc. (STEFTI) for the donation and training of the use of “modified” sports equipment known for its safety and ease – in order to encourage wide participation and inclusion of children in physical activity. In return, the teachers are tasked to reach out to other beneficiary schools and execute the same. In so doing, multiplying the impact of the assistance, beyond what was initially given.
- With the Center for Sport, Peace and Society in Tacloban
In light of the Tacloban disaster in November 2013, University of Tennessee Center for Sport, Peace and Society proponents Dr. Ashleigh Huffman and Dr. Sarah Hillyer visited Tacloban from March 9 to 11, 2014, to conduct sport-based psychosocial interventions. These interventions aim to restore wellbeing through physical activities within the context of local traditions, needs and resources. In disaster situations, they are designed to create a safe and structured environment for survivors and reinforce social cohesion.
100 days after Typhoon Haiyan devastated Leyte, a team composed of members from the Sport Management Council, U.P. College of Human Kinetics, the International Emergency and Development Aid (IEDA), together with the US Department State funded Dr. Huffman and Dr. Hillyer, and Initiated the program “RePLAY, ReLIVE, ReCREATE*,” which entailed the administration of purposeful and intentional physical activities for psychosocial relief in post-disaster victims.
A State Department video, where it can also give you an idea and the synopsis.
The main objective was to capacitate teachers and trainers on the use of sport and physical activity for psychosocial relief. The participating schools and institutions were: from the Private schools – Sacred Heart Seminary, Bethel International School, and St. Therese Educational Foundation of Tacloban Inc. (STEFTI); from the government schools – UP Tacloban, Palo National High School, Eastern Visayas State University, and Leyte National High School; from the LGU – Tacloban City Sports Council, and Leyte Sports Academy.
Observations and narratives from the participants were analyzed after three months to reveal themes that clarified the suitability of the interventions: participants and their wards developed changes in perspective – from helplessness to feeling of empowerment, to ability to “look forward” and to commit towards community rebuilding. More importantly, sport-based interventions continued even after the initial relief has gone.
- Project “Sport for Love” in Tacloban, Leyte
Barely two months after Typhoon Haiyan struck, Dr. Kong-Ting Yeh, President of the Asian Association of Sport Management (AASM) launched the campaign “Sport for Love” with the goal of comforting the victims of the disaster through sport. After months of organizing and soliciting, the day finally came on August 26 and 27, 2015, for Dr. Yeh and his student James Hao of the National Taiwan Sport University, to bring slacklining to Tacloban, Leyte.
Slacklining is similar to tightrope walking, but using a flat piece of webbing tied between supporting structures or anchors. The activity began in the 1980s among mountain climbers, who during days of rest, would tie climbing ropes between trees to see if they could balance, jump or do stunts.
Today, slacklining has grown in popularity among the young and old, from the recreational to serious enthusiasts, due to the ease of use of the equipment and the benefits derived in developing balance and core strength. Psychologically, slacklining improves concentration, confidence and encourages interpersonal interaction among its participants.
Such was the case when Dr. Yeh and James set up the Slackline at the People’s Park in Tacloban, Leyte to demonstrate and teach the workers from the International Emergency and Development Aid (IEDA) on the use of slacklining for their outreach work at the relief centers.
The activity instantly drew curiosity from those who ventured to try, not only from among the students but even adults, who could not resist the lure of “play” – their spirits buoyed with each attempt on the flat web, whether they were successful at it or not. For sure, each participant went home afterwards feeling refreshed and raring to conquer another day towards recovery.
Our heartfelt thanks to Gibbon Slackline, the National Taiwan Sport University and AASM, for showing us once again, the power of sport.
- “Understanding the Dynamics of Sports-Based Interventions” Seminar in Zamboanga
A post-conflict seminar for Zamboanga – October 9 and 10, 2014 at Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) in Zamboanga City, titled “Understanding the Dynamics of Sports Based Interventions,” were attended by students and teachers from Ateneo de Zamboanga and University of Zamboanga. A talk on sports management and sport-based psychosocial interventions were held. Sport psychologist and international author Dr. Marissa Adviento-Guinto, who did a research on “Mind of a Champion,” interviewing the likes of Paeng Nepumoceno, Eugene Torre, Manny Pacquiao, Efren Bata Reyes and Bong Coo, also conducted a compelling lecture.
Seeking the Peripheries in Sports: A Journal at the 2015 Philippine National Open Athletics Championships
By Airnel T. Abarra, Ateneo de Davao University
Being inside a Jesuit University, we at the Ateneo de Davao University Athletics office are always reminded by our University President Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ to follow the request of His Holiness Pope Francis to go in the “Peripheries.” In the sport that I am coaching, it is known how Athletics or Track and Field is the sport that is given less attention in the Philippines as far as funding, media exposure, and crowd following are concerned. Compared with ball sports in our country, there are a few events in our country that showcase the talents of our Track and Field athletes. That’s why when I learned about the 2015 Philippine National Open Athletics Championships, I rushed to the Laguna Sports Complex in Sta. Cruz, Laguna to network with athletes, coaches, and officials in Philippine Athletics. This is also the best time to gauge how an Athletics meet is done on a national scale and what lessons one can learn in doing such programs.
I went to Sta. Cruz as an independent media, being also a blogger of www.pinoyathletics.info. Upon getting my ID, I went to do the coverage of the said event. During the whole tournament, I’ve seen how Fil-Heritage athletes, commonly known as Fil-Ams, excelled, such as thrower Caleb Stuart, who won all his events in throwing. In Running, Isang Smith, Jessica Barnard, and Brandon Thomas all excelled in their respective track events, while Donovan Grant had the same fate in Long Jump. It is clearly seen how our homegrown athletes are challenged by those who were born, raised, and trained in first-world countries like the United States.
The influx of Fil-Heritage athletes in our country is a reflection on how our state and our society look Track and Field as a sport. Few people choose this sport for their children and only those who prefer it are coming from the provinces with humble socio-economic status. We can count only with our fingers the events and tournaments that are solely for Athletics: Palarong Pambansa, Philippine National Games, and National Open. They have been institutions in the sport program, but given their classical structure, they do not cater much to all those who want participate especially those in the grassroots level, because they just happen once every year.
Comparing on what the structure of track and field programs in first world countries, they excel because they have more localized meets, which are joined by athletes from different clubs and organizations. Those localized meets serve as the base of higher events that will lead to the selection of players. The National Open that I witnessed in Laguna still needs to be promoted further. There should be meets in different cities which are sustainable and doesn’t depend on the bureaucracy in order to run.
Still during the National Open, I have seen local athletes that have continued the legacy of our track stars, such as Lydia De Vega-Mercado and Elma Muros-Posadas. Marestella Torres and Katherine Khay Santos could be a great start towards our aspirations to get Philippines back on Asian Athletics map. I’ve talked to Khay Santos and told her about the monthly track meet and other events in Ateneo de Davao. Seeing this lady’s talent and good character, she can be the rising star and poster girl in Philippine Athletics. One thing that Philippine Athletics needs is character athletes and coaches. I am hopeful that by bringing these athletes closer to different groups and providing them avenues of learning experience outside their field, they can represent the sport more. Promising athletes, such as 100-meter juniors winner Eloiza Luzon from Bukidnon and Sonny Wagdos from Davao, can be trained further and better if we create an extensive program for our homegrown athletes.
After the tournament, I had a good conversation with Isang Smith and opened the possibilities of collaboration for a sustainable localized Athletics meet in Davao. This in relation in the vision of making athletes empowered by communicating to them and exploring possibilities for collaborations.
To wrap-up my experience in the National Open, it is clearly seen that in order to raise the standards in Philippine Athletics, we must give better learning opportunities for our homegrown athletes and coaches. Expatriate athletes are also needed so that they can really boost the level of competition. In order to do that, Philippine Athletics events should be scattered to different parts of the Philippines, localize meets, and leaders and policy makers should really go to the peripheries.
AIRNEL T. ABARRA is the Head of the Track and Field Program at Ateneo de Davao University. He is formerly from UP College of Human Kinetics and also a sport sociologist.
By Dean Philip Ella Juico, De La Salle University Manila
Back in 1995, former Philippine Sports Commission chairman Dean Philip Ella Juico discussed the crucial role of physical education and sports development in the country in order to successfully compete globally. Sport Management Council updates and republishes his presentation, showing its substantial relevance even almost two decades after.
More than the debate on the level of support in the upper-tier amateur and professional ranks, the first thing that ought to be done in talking about a productive and constant Philippine participation in international competitions is to discuss the Philippine physical education and sports development framework. This is an essential step in any discussion of high-level or elite sports, since this level of competition generally draws its existence and strength from sports development at lower levels.
For starters, sports development at the lower levels are strengthened and supported by a number of laws and executive issuances that, together, make up the framework of a Philippine physical education and sports system. These laws and issuances, include among others, the law creating the Philippines Sports Commission (PSC), the Executive Orders creating the National Physical Fitness and Sports Development Council (NPFSDC) and its counterpart in the Regional, Provincial, City, Municipal, and Barangay levels. In addition is the PSC strategic plan that was crafted in 1995 and updated thereafter up to 1998.
The pyramid structure of sports development (see image above) starting from the schools, going up to the barangays, clubs, regions, national programs, National Sports Associations (NSAs), National Athletes Pool, Philsports (the “hub” of the national network), and the physical location of the majority of the national athlete/coaches pool and culminating in the highest level of elite/high performance sports, the Olympics (including Olympic-type, multi-sport competitions such as the Asian Games and the Southeast Asian or SEA Games).
The Integrated Programs of Sports Development framework shows the role and positioning of international/high performance/elite sports. The left part of the diagram makes up the mass base or “amateurs”/weekend athletes who take up sports for recreation and occasionally for short competitions. The situation becomes more competitive as you move to the right side of the diagram.
The Five Stages of Development of Philippine sports:
- Mass Sports – the foundation
- Philippine National Games (PNG) – three PSC administrations have shelved
- Sports Talent Reserve and Athletes Pool – the source of athletes for high level sports
- High Level Sports – Olympics or Asian Games, for example
- Sports Entertainment and Amusement – generally professional sports, such as the National Basketball Association, the Philippine Basketball Association, or the World Cup of Soccer
Such framework is essentially in place, but what needs to happen is to ensure that the framework becomes a working/operational framework rather than just a theoretical one.
Using the Assets
It is important that the major resource that the Philippines has in abundant numbers, its population, is used more effectively. These include the physical education and school sports coordinators in the Department of Education and sports coordinators in the DILG.
1. Educator Enablement
To ensure the efficient use of these resources, the system of Physical Education and school sport training needs to be restructured to ensure that all teachers have an adequate level of knowledge of physical education and school sport.
2. Welfare and Passion Preservation
As well as focusing on elite/high-performance sport, the school sport system needs to target the children who are not talented, so that these children continue to be involved in sport because of enjoyment either as a participant or coach or official or administrator. Programs which are concerned more about kids enjoyment of sport and instilling the importance of fair play and camaraderie could be introduced into the Philippines and help to achieve these goals. A key to the success of mass based sports programs is people empowerment. This will occur if the training programs are in place and the recipients can see that their involvement will benefit the local community. The benefit of further government involve in this training comes through a reduction in the national health bill.
System Troubleshoot and Upgrade
1. Division of Responsibilities
At the elite sports level there are a range of issues that need to be sorted out. The first concerns the relationship between the PSC and the NSAs. The dilemma centers round the autonomy of the NSAs and the degree to which they sacrifice that autonomy if they agree to use taxpayers’ money. The PSC must encourage the NSAs to be more responsible and more accountable for the money they manage and to ensure that they are aware of their broader commitment to mass sports in the wider community.
For its part, the PSC must seek to place itself in a position where the NSAs view the PSC as a technical provider and a source of advice. This will only be achieved by having competent and well-trained staff dealing directly with the NSAs.
2. Fund Reallocation
A further dilemma is that with limited funds – the PSC is currently funding too many sports (around 40). It may be more effective in terms of results, to target a smaller number of sports and provide them with extra funding required to achieve results. It may also be wise for PSC to target women’s sports that currently receive a smaller percentage of total funding, as this would increase the chance of success at international competitions.
3. Priority and Funding for Continuous Education and Development
An upgrading of sports science (physiology, psychology, motor control, biomechanics, nutrition and diet and sports technology.
The current gaps and challenges of high performance sports are generally the same in most societies with the Canadian experience probably one of those hewing very closely to the Philippine situation.
a. Information Sharing, Knowledge and Learning – there continues to be a view within some NSAs that “our sport is unique,” which has led to some resistance in learning from the experiences of other sports. There is still a tendency to focus on the business of their own sport, and as a result, opportunities to share experiences and knowledge are often not considered.
There continues to be an approach within many NSAs that does not reflect change and innovation. They need to do more introspection, critical reflection and serious analysis regarding their programs, and the development of athletes. Managing knowledge and information (knowledge economy) is currently viewed as an important strategic direction for many sectors and sports should be no different.
b. Research, Sports Science and Special Projects – the means to use whatever little research facilities the Philippines has (universities, private groups, military) to create advantages for Filipino athletes must become a future priority.
c. Funding High-Performance Sport – Across all sports there is a lack of a long-term resource commitment required to consistently be a top-performing nation. Filipino athletes are talented but do not receive levels of support comparable to other top sporting nations that allows full-time commitment to training and competitions.
d. Investment in Coaching – There has to be long-term commitment to full-time coaches. Many NSAs support coach salaries through multiple sources, leaving coaches vulnerable to funding support fluctuations from funding agencies or political shifts within the sport. There must also be an acceptance of the fact that some sports require specialized technical instruction such as synchronized swimming, which needs specialized instruction in acrobatics, ballet and probably, choreography.
e. Centralization, Training Centers and clubs: Cultures of Excellence – Some successful NSAs abroad owe their success to the ability to establish longer term centralized training and/or a network of training centers and groups. Ideally, the strength of the system should depend on the strength of the local club (provincial association). The training center should create a culture of excellence that includes access to world-class coaching, facilities, medical/regeneration support services, opportunity for cross-training, etc. The PHILSPORTS, created during Chairman Philip Ella Juico’s time, should be the “hub” of all these training centers or network of training centers.
f. International Competition – There is no doubt that athletes need more foreign exposure to become better. International competition is a particular concern for sports that have a strong European (fencing, soccer, volleyball, cycling, equestrian, wrestling, rowing, et al) and/or Asian (judo, karate, taekwondo, badminton, et al) concentration of world-class athletes, teams, and competitions. There needs to be greater understanding that International Federations are seeking to have more of these competitions or World Cup events, to determine athlete rankings and Olympic.
g. Collegiate and Professional Sports – Athletic commitments to the collegiate, club, and professional leagues is a factor that limits the ability to centralize or participate in national team activities (basketball, soccer, volleyball, et al). Coordinating the scheduling of national team activities around professional club and collegiate leagues is a challenge.
h. Women’s Sport – Some countries do not provide equal opportunities for women in sports, thus, giving advantage to countries that promote gender equity in sports.
i. Talent Identification – This is done on a sport-by-sport basis. The PNG plays a crucial role in this respect.
j. Leadership – There is a need for more professional staff and technical experts who are responsible and accountable for high performance and decision-making – part of good governance.
k. Athlete Involvement – They should be involved in shaping the high-performance program. They can provide tremendous support to establishing future priorities for the sport.