Going West with grassroots development

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ROMY P. MARIÑAS

The Philippine Sports Commission has the unenviable task of handing cash incentives from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. to podium finishers in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) held in Malaysia last month.

Many of the recipients of P300,000 each for a gold-medal finish, P150,000 (silver medal) and P60,000 (bronze medal) who were awarded recently reflect the wrong direction that Philippine sports has been heading the past several years—West, particularly the United States.

Local scouts look overseas for prospective athletes who are capable of delivering for the country instantly, instead of really embarking on an honest-to-goodness grassroots development.

They want the easy way out and look what they just “achieved” in the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.

In athletics, Anthony Beram acquitted himself well, sweeping the 200 meters and 400 meters for men for what some experts describe as the “rare” double, whether it is the Southeast Asia regional games, the Asian Games or the Olympic Games.

Beram is Filipino-American, a native New Yorker who lives and trains in his mother’s adopted country.

Eric Cray won the 400 meter hurdles for men but failed to repeat in the 100 meters where he was the defending champion.

Cray is also Filipino-American, who lives and trains too in the US, also his mom’s adopted country.

Daniel Caluag is a BMX rider, who finished third in his event, taking bronze.

Winner of the gold in the 2014 Asian Games but falling short in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, he is also an “imported” Filipino-American athlete from America..

In judo in this year’s SEA Games, two Filipino-Japanese athletes each gave the Philippines a gold medal.

After these outstanding sportsmen and sportswomen received their cash incentives, they left the country and, presumably, they would continue training for the bigger and more competitive 2020 Asian Games in Tokyo.

Meanwhile, homegrown Filipino talents, except those who early on show natural skills to excel like gymnast Carlos Yulo, are practically left to fend for themselves because sports honchos want quick results to enable them to bask in the glory of athletes trained in the West.

Have you ever wondered why practically no Muslim or any other member of minority groups in the Philippines represented the country in Kuala Lumpur last month?

One reason could be that the “grassroots development” they mouth is centered in Metro Manila, when there are at least a dozen regions where the scouts surely would be able to spot talents coming from Guimaras, Caraga or Mimaropa.

Well, there’s the West—and the East (Japan)—for them and so why bother with homegrown (no offense meant to Filipino-foreigners)?



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