MANILA, Philippines - The Palarong Pambansa will focus on two sports where the country is fast gaining ground – football and boxing – when its 55th edition unfurls from May 6-12 at the Narciso Ramos Sports Complex in Lingayen, Pangasinan.
“We know these two are the sports we’re good at that’s why we’re preparing well to make it a memorable experience,” said host Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino in yesterday’s PSA Forum at the Shakey’s restaurant in UN Ave. in Manila.
“We hope that in our hosting, we’ll get to see more future Azkals to come out of football and more Olympians to emerge in boxing,” he added.
The annual multi-sports meet for elementary and high school student athletes has been the breeding ground of talents for national teams competing in various international competitions.
In fact, Azkals co-skipper Chieffy Caligdong, the Golden Boot winner in last year’s Long Teng Cup in Chinese Taipei, once played for Western Visayas’ Barotac Nuevo in Iloilo, considered the football hotbed in the country.
Boxing, for its part, has produced a slew of world-class fighters, including now light flyweight Mark Anthony Barriga, the Panabo, Davao del Norte product and former many-time Palaro gold medal winner who is set to compete in this year’s London Olympics.
To inspire the kids competing in Lingayen, the Department of Education, represented by Assistant Secretary Tonisito Umali, and the host province are planning to invite several Azkals team members, headed by Caligdong, to grace the event and perhaps conduct free clinics.
“This Palarong Pambansa is a venue for future Azkals and everyone knows we’ve been going around the country to promote the sport and this event is the best venue to spread the word of football because there are thousands of kids going there,” said Azkals team manager Dan Palami.
Aside from football and boxing, other sports to be played in the Palaro are athletics, arnis, badminton, baseball, basketball, chess, gymnastics, sipa, sepak takraw, softball, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, lawn tennis and volleyball.
Disciplines like goalball, aquatics, bocce, long jump, shotput, 100m, 200m and 400m dash are calendared in the special games for the differently abled.