MANILA, Philippines – New Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (PATAFA) president Philip Juico has no problems with including Fil-foreign athletes within their ranks and is also open to hiring foreign coaches and training abroad.
Juico recently took over the PATAFA leadership from long-time chief Go Teng Kok, who was president of the organization for 24 years.
"Of course, our preference is for homegrown athletes," Juico said during an interview on ANC's "Hardball" on Wednesday. "They're here, they're easier to monitor, we can talk to them, and they become part of the community."
"But if there are Fil-foreign (athletes), (athletes) with Filipino blood, why not?" he added. "It's a global society now, it's a global community. There are nine million Filipinos all over the world, and if other countries can use this internationally-shared resource, why not us?"
Juico also noted that he has previously worked with foreign coaches. "There's nothing wrong with it," he said. "You just have to tell the Filipino coaches that this is also a matter of transferring technology."
The new PATAFA chief also wants the Filipino track-and-field athletes to train abroad, pointing out that this was necessary for them to gain the confidence to perform on the big stage.
"Sometimes, we have the talent, but if you're not used to big competitions where you have the cameras, then you lose your nerves," he said. "That's what happens to some of our athletes."
Juico also took the time to explain that he is not out to "replace" Go Teng Kok. "You cannot replace Mr. Go Teng Kok. He's irreplaceable," he said.
"We have different ways of looking things, and we will work in harmony with everyone who is interested in Philippine sports and Philippine track and field," he added.
Juico explained that Go was a hands-on leader who "took care of the athletes," but left the "governance issues… to his staff."
"I will try to do both, with the help of many other people. We will try to be participative," Juico said. "My own belief is although I am president, we have 10 (members of the) Board of Trustees. This is a shared burden, a shared responsibility. I'm not alone here."
The first order of business for Juico is the Asian Games, with the track and field competition starting on September 27, and then the National Open on November.
Juico had gained the support of collegiate coaches during his campaign to take over the PATAFA presidency, but he still has to face questions from the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), who did not recognize the organization's polls.
According to a report from The Philippine Star, the POC said PATAFA "still has to create a new set of constitution and by-laws based on the guidelines set by the International Olympic Committee."
Juico, for his part, said they "will comply with all of the requirements needed for POC accreditation."