"Let’s plant the seed."
It has been part of our culture to take pride in our fellowmen who bring honor and glory to the country through their historic victories and recognition in the international scene. This year, we were amazed and thrilled by our national athlete, such as the gymnast Carlos Yulo and boxer Nesthy Petecio to name a few, who brought home world championships and medals from international sports events.
While we celebrate their victories, it is inevitable to wonder about the current state of our Philippine athletes. Recently, Wesley So, a natural-born Filipino who later on transferred to the American Federation and represented the United States in Chess tournaments, became a world Chess champion in his victory against Magnus Carlsen. Remember how So became one of the youngest chess grandmasters of the world at the age of 14 when he was still playing for the Philippines. News outlets have cited that So lamented his unfortunate experience when he was still playing for the country. He said there was a lack of adequate support from the government.
We are quick to celebrate when athletes bring home trophies and medals. However, the attention the government pours in to the development of sports and support to our national athletes run disproportional. For instance, Hidilyn Diaz, the 2016 Rio Olympics silver medalist in weightlifting, has earlier appealed for financial help and private sponsorship online to fund her journey to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The Philippine Sports Commission has denied allegations of its shortcomings, but with such denial comes the increased awareness of the plight of our national athletes.
It is saddening that many of our athletes find better financial support from private organizations and companies. Every year, a portion of our budget is allocated to the improvement and development of sports in the country. Despite the annual allocation, it seems that this is not enough to provide support to our national athletes. While I recognize the talent of many of our athletes, I echo the concern of Senator Pacquiao that we should focus more on sports where Filipinos have fighting chances to win. That way, we will be able to provide comprehensive assistance to the Philippine contingent for such sport that will assure us of better chances of winning.
Nevertheless, the duty of the government to render support to Philippine sports remains. Sports has been long regarded as one of the most meaningful and productive means to veer the youth away from commission of crime and illegal drugs. It is only just that we continue to strive for the upgrading of our sports facilities, equipment, and training. It starts with our local sports events such as provincial meets. Local government units play a crucial role in providing first-level backing and aid to our young athletes. Hence, reforms should start within the community.
In Quezon, the provincial athletic meet will be held this November. This is an opportunity for our local athletes to showcase their talents, at the same time, an occasion to assess the capability of the LGUs to extend assistance. I call on our local government units to spearhead the necessary improvements in sports development in their own localities. In this way, we are planting the seeds that will surely bring fruitful victories in the future.