IT’s high time for a more integrated and wide-ranging way to train Filipino athletes and promote grassroots sports development in the country, says Senate Committee on Sports chair Senator Christopher “Bong” Go.
In this view, Go introduced Senate Bill 423 (Philippine National Games Act of 2022), which seeks to ensure a more inclusive system of promoting promising Filipino athletes who possess potential in various fields of sports to be given an equal opportunity of becoming future contenders in international sporting competitions and cement the country’s status as a “Sports Powerhouse in Asia”.
“Ngayong 19th Congress, nag-file po ako ng Philippine National Games Bill. Ito pong SBN 423, iniengganyo ko po ang mga kabataan natin to get into sports, stay away from drugs. A mini-Olympics po itong Philippine National Games, i-institutionalize po siya,” he explained.
If passed, the bill shall address other Olympic and Asian Games sports, which have proven to give the country more medals in international competitions, but are not regularly included in Palarong Pambansa or any other sports programs in the country.
The bill aspires to institutionalize “a truly comprehensive national grassroots sports program, which will harness the vast potential of the citizenry in discovering and developing champion athletes who could excel in international sports competition, thus giving the country pride and international goodwill and addressing the long-standing problems of Philippine sports in general.”
Among others, the Philippine National Games shall serve as the government’s premier national sports competition to be held once every two years; encourage all local government officials to promote the development of sports in the countryside; serve as a venue for the National Sports Associations in promoting their respective sports at the grassroots level; and widen the base for talent identification, selection, and recruitment of athletes that shall constitute the national pool to be trained for international sports competitions.
The Palarong Pambansa provided for under Republic Act No. 10588, and other local sports competitions organized by the local government units or the private sector, shall serve as a “feeder” and preparatory sports program for the PNG.
If passed, Go’s PNG bill will likewise provide for the respective roles of concerned agencies, such as the PSC, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, Local Government Units, Philippine Olympic Committee, National Sports Associations, and Local Sports Councils in the implementation of the proposed Act.
Following the recent victory of chess prodigy Bince Rafael Operiano, a Grade 3 student from Oas, Albay, at the 2022 Eastern Asia Youth Chess Championship in Bangkok, Thailand, Go stressed anew the need for the government to support all Filipino athletes, especially aspiring ones.
“Bilang Committee Chair on Sports, suportahan po dapat ng ating Philippine Sports Commission ‘yung mga atleta natin. Kahit anong larangan ng palakasan, dapat po suportado natin sila,” said Go in an ambush interview after personally aiding residents in Malalag, Davao del Sur on Saturday, November 26.
The senator then pledged to support calls of giving Operiano financial aid and incentives he is entitled to as a young athlete which he will bring up with Philippine Sports Commission Chair Noli Eala.
“Kakausapin ko po si Chairperson Noli Eala tungkol dito. Dapat po manggagaling po sa kanila ‘yung financial assistance if ever man po qualified for financial assistance po ‘yung atleta o ‘yung chess player na bata,” said Go.
The senator has also earlier authored and co-sponsored Republic Act No. 11470, establishing the National Academy of Sports System and Main Campus at the New Clark City Sports Complex in Capas, Tarlac.
“Ang dami pong potential athletes natin kaya nga po isa sa pinangarap ko noon na magkaroon ng National Academy of Sports. Natupad na po itong pangarap ko. ‘Yung pangarap ko noon, nagkatotoo na ngayon, itong National Academy for Sports,” he said.
The NAS is a government-run academy aimed at developing the country’s future athletes by offering quality secondary education with a special curriculum on sports for gifted young Filipinos who want to enhance their physical and mental capabilities in sports.
“Isa siyang eskwelahan na mag-aaral ka at the same time makakapag-training, training at the same time mag-aral. Walang masasakripisyo dahil pwede siyang mag-training at the same time na nag-aaral po. ‘Pag nakapagtapos siya ng pag-aaral, makaka-proceed po siya sa next level at makakapag-training po siya,” explained the senator.