President Duterte declared during his fourth State of the Nation his support to the proposal to create the National Academy of Sports for high school students, drawing applause from the gallery. Yet, while the proposal is laudable, the devil, as they say, lies in the details. As such, the people who may be tasked to craft the framework of the future academy should know what ails Philippine sports.
The country’s decline in international sports competitions can be traced to at least three factors: wrong priorities, lack of state-of-the art facilities and capable coaches and trainers, and incentives for athletes.
For decades, Filipinos have focused too much on disciplines which offer practically no chances of landing on the Olympic podium. For example, basketball, a game that favors those with heft and height, has become an obsession, a religion even. Nobody seems to realize that even in Asia the basketball stage has become crowded with powerhouse teams like China, Iran and South Korea.
The country’s sports leaders should instead spend more time and resources on sports where the Filipino’s physique is more suited, or where height is not an advantage. Rowing and swimming, for instance, would be excellent areas of investment. If a Singaporean boy could beat American swimming sensation Michael Phelps, there’s no reason why a local talent can’t shine in the pool. And, hasn’t a local dragon boat team gained victories abroad?
Another area that needs attention is the sorry state of sports facilities coupled with coaches and trainers especially those handling elementary and high school athletes. How many of them have undergone coaching seminars? Are they following the proper training regimen for their wards?
Equally important too is giving enough incentives for athletes. This is one area where the country lags behind.
These things should be integrated in defining the envisioned Academy’s role in improving the sorry state of Philippine sports.