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Gov’t needs to spend more on sports dev’t

05:02 AM September 05, 2018

Although only a permanent resident here, I couldn’t help but feel proud of the gold medal in women’s weightlifting achieved by Hidilyn Diaz. But her solid win has also stirred up feelings of dismay and sadness and not a little bit of anger at how neglected sporting talent has been treated in this country.

Sure, the extra P6 million will come in handy, but Diaz’s motivation does not, it seems, come from money, but from within.

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She recently launched a short independently produced film about her early days, and the pathetic state of her primitive and worn-out sporting facilities left me feeling dismayed.

My hunch is that there are plenty of talented young Filipino sports stars, but they are denied support every inch of the way because, like the vast majority of their fellow Filipinos, they happen to be poor, and gated communities are not in the habit of allowing just anybody to use their exclusive facilities, be it swimming pools or tennis courts (but maybe sometimes basketball courts). In Cagayan de Oro, we have an Olympic swimming pool, but a P100 fee just to get in excludes many (including this pensioner).

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My other hunch is that, because of the widespread, systematic and persistent neglect of Filipino young sports talent and the pathetic state of sports facilities here, they have to train in other countries, like Australia (which has a world-class ACT Academy of Sport in Canberra) or the United States.

I don’t know how much this government spends on sports, but if it’s serious about how important sports is as a motivator to succeed in life, it has to spend more.

Perhaps when Diaz returns home, instead of giving her a pathetic few million pesos, how about appointing her secretary for sports and letting her set the agenda for the future? I bet she has a few original ideas of her own. Or why not a Philippine Sports Academy?

If this country can just disregard the billions of pesos in financial scandals—and never recovered—over the last 10 years, surely it can afford a sports academy.

Or is the Philippines content to let our best and brightest sports talent be found overseas, representing other countries?

WALTER P KOMARNICKI, [email protected]

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