PNG open to Fil-foreigners

By Abac Cordero, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 20 2013 03:42 PM | Updated as of May 20 2013 11:42 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The coming Philippine National Games is also open to Fil-foreign athletes hoping to represent the country in future international competitions.

"There are a lot of overseas Filipinos interested in joining the PNG," said PSC commissioner Jolly Gomez, who is also PNG project director.

Gomez said because of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, Filipino athletes based overseas are now more aware of what's happening in sports back home.

"We have athletes based in the United States, Australia and Europe, and we may have the edge here compared to those from Thailand and other (Southeast Asian) countries," he said.

"And some of these are outstanding athletes," added Gomez in the hope that these athletes may represent the Philippines in the SEA Games, Asian Games or even the Olympics.

They may even end up as part of the Philippine delegation to the Asian Youth Games in Nanjing, China in August where the Phiippines, according to chef-de-mission Tac Padilla, is hoping to send over 50 athletes.

Gomez said they can start with the PNG.

He said the only problem for these foreign-based athletes is where to get the money to spend for their trips.

"We have sent out invitations to a few," said Gomez, perhaps referring to Fil-American twins Kyla and Kayla Richardson who compete in the 100m, 200m and 400m races and the long jump.

The Richardsons, who are 14 years old, have already surpassed junior records in the 100m dash.

Gomez said the PSC is open to make a deal with these athletes that if they come over on their own and they win then the government sports agency can give their money back.

"We can reimburse them for their travel and accommodation. We also have young girls from gymnastics and some from wrestling and track and field," he added.

"I hope they come over and compete. We are also hoping that the NSAs (national sports associations) can take the initiative in inviting these people or by looking for sponsors," Gomez said.

The PNG, set May 24-June 2 in different venues within Metro Manila, is expected to lure close to 10,000 athletes, including members of the national pool.

The stakes are higher for athletes under the 10 priority sports because if they lose in the PNG, they face drastic cuts in their allowances as elite athletes.

Events include archery, arnis, athletics, badminton, baseball, beach volleyball, billiards, bowling, boxing, canoe/kayak, chess, cycling, dancesport, dragon boat, football, futsal, golf, gymnastics, judo, karatedo, lawn tennis, motocross, muay thai, pencak silat, powerlifting, rugby, sepak takraw, sailing, shooting, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, triathlon, volleyball, weightlifting, wind surfing, wrestling and wushu.