FIBA World Cup experience: Springboard to greater heights

Congratulations are in order for the whole Gilas Pilipinas Team for their monumental win versus China (96-75), ending our FIBA World Cup 2023 campaign on a hopeful note.

I have always believed in the capabilities of our athletes who have shown their mettle in international sports competitions. As chairperson of the Senate Committee on Sports, I am rallying all Filipinos to support our long-term roadmap to elevate the standing of our athletes in the global arena in all sporting events.

Filipinos have excelled in the global stage not just in basketball, billiards, or boxing which are relatively the more popular sports in the country. Take for example Carlos Yulo in gymnastics, EJ Obiena in pole vaulting, Hidilyn Diaz in weightlifting, the late Lydia de Vega in track and field, and, of course, the Filipinas Football team who made us proud during the recent FIFA Women’s World Cup. Our very own Alex Eala is also a rising star in the world of tennis. We have many talented athletes, and we should support them in their quest to give honor to the country.

However, success in any sporting event does not come easily. Any athlete will tell you that sports entails discipline, many hours of hard work, and even years of sacrifices. Hence, our efforts to strengthen our chances on the global stage must start at the grassroots level.

This is the rationale behind RA 11470 or the National Academy of Sports or NAS law, which I authored and co-sponsored, and signed into law by former president Rodrigo Duterte in 2020.

The NAS System will provide scholarships to qualified student-athletes from all regions and will allow them to balance academics and sports training by utilizing the state-of-the-art facilities at New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac.

I am also advocating the approval of Senate Bill No. 423 or the Philippine National Games or PNG Act, to institutionalize the conduct of the PNG every two years as this will allow us to discover those with athletic potential at the grassroots level. We have talented athletes, but the government must invest in providing them with opportunities to compete if we want to produce champions on both the national and international stages.

I am pushing for SBN 2116, which will amend Section 8 of RA 10699 or the “National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Act.” This will increase the incentives for para-athletes who will win medals in international competitions and make our approach more inclusive to all athletes regardless of their physical limitations.

Our efforts to achieve victory in sports must reflect the diversity of our country. The government, together with the private sector and other stakeholders, must consistently provide all the support that our teams need to compete at the global level. Our focus must be on creating opportunities for all aspiring athletes, regardless of geographic or economic background, to excel in their chosen fields.

Hence, we should bring our sports development programs closer to those who have the potentials and aspirations to represent our country and bring pride to every Filipino.

More importantly, sports is not only a physical game but a means to uplift lives, keep our youth away from vices like illegal drugs, and strengthen camaraderie in our communities. Let us elevate sports as a viable tool in harnessing our citizens into disciplined, productive and patriotic individuals reflective of our Filipino pride.

In the same way that we unite to support our athletes, let us also unite to support fellow Filipinos in need. That is why I have continued to engage with various sectors of society to listen to their concerns and help provide solutions to their daily struggles.

Filipinos inherently have a “never say die” attitude, especially in sports which is reflective of our resilience as a society. But aside from this commendable trait, our resilience also stems from our inherent compassion for each other.

Our “Tapang at Malasakit” must continue so that together, we can uplift the lives of Filipinos.

As a Senator and public servant, I remain steadfast in supporting our athletes to reach greater heights while also exerting efforts to help bring government programs and services closer to those in need to provide them with opportunities for a better life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *