MANILA, Philippines – Manny Lopez, Team Philippines chief of mission to the 2012 London Olympics, believes it is not just the lack of funding that is hindering the development of Philippine sports.
“Of course, funding is a major problem,” Lopez said in an interview with Joaquin Henson of The Philippine Star. “But let’s face it. Sports is not just a top priority with the government, so we can’t really expect all-out support.”
At least one official from the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), chairman Monico Puentevella, has blamed the lack of funding, singling out the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) for not allocating the correct amount of money to the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).
“We are raising this issue because Pagcor is violating the law by remitting only half of what is due to the PSC. If the PSC is receiving P600 million a year from Pagcor, it should be P1.2 billion,” Puentevella said.
But Lopez said, “A good leader must be resourceful to locate sources of funding in the private sector when the government support is not enough.”
Lopez firmly believes there needs to be strong cooperation among the countries sports agencies and the Department of Education in order to create a true grassroots program for sports.
“No one group can do it. It won’t be the POC or the PSC alone. We’ve got to incorporate sports into the school curriculum, particularly in the elementary grades,” he told Henson.
“Talent identification is a priority, and we can do it if we’ve got a grassroots developmental program in place down to the school level,” Lopez added.
There should also be more focus on sports wherein Filipinos have the potential to excel, Lopez said, citing South Korea as an example.
“Take South Korea’s example in archery. It’s a sport where South Korea is guaranteed gold medals in every Olympics,” he said.
“We’ve got talented athletes all over the country, potential international medalists. We need to find them, train them and prepare them for competition,” Lopez added.
“It will take at least six years to develop world-class athletes and we’ve got to start now.”