Duterte hopes National Academy of Sports to spur victory of olympians, athletes

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 14 2022 08:52 PM

ABS-CBN News/File
ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he hopes that the National Academy of Sports (NAS) will help the country's athlete-scholars to secure victory in future sporting events and bring honor to the country. 

Duterte said his administration, which ends on June 30, ushered the "golden era of sports."

"It is therefore my hope, and maybe my prayer that the pioneer batch of student athletes become well-rounded olympians and champions who will carry our flag in the national sports arena [and] inspire a deep sense of patriotism among the Filipinos," Duterte said during the inspection of the new facility.

"Let me continue to work with one another and sustain the present golden era of sports even beyond my term. Keeping in mind that the legacy we are building will not be ours alone but also for the succeeding generations to come," he added. 

The sports academy, located in New Clark City on Capas, Tarlac, was established through Republic Act No. 11470 that he signed on June 9, 2020.

NAS aims to provide world-class facilities to the country's Filipino athlete-scholars and "future champions," said lawyer Aristotle Batuhan, the OIC president and CEO of Bases Conversion and Development Authority. 

It has several core divisions focused mainly on sports science, support services, and academics. The academy is attached to the Department of Education and is being run by the Philippine Sports Commission.

The academy's multipurpose gymnasium includes basketball, volleyball gym, weightlifting room, an athletic stadium, and an aquatic center, based on the presentation showed during the event.

"I am ever conscious that is my duty to protect the young, itong mga bata... that is why I had no hesitation to sign the law that would pave the way for this to evolve something which is really beautiful and magnificent to me," Duterte said.

ATHLETES' LEARNING

In September last year, NAS welcomed its first batch of student-athletes, giving them a sports-oriented curriculum delivered via remote learning as in-person classes remain limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

NAS Executive Director Josephine Reyes said they are ready to start with face-to-face classes as soon as the buildings get completed.

"We have given ample time and effort to plan for face-to-face classes. Unfortunately, we really wanted to start our classes when our building, the infra will have a complete set na talaga. Kumbaga sa bahay, it is a fully furnished structure," Reyes said.

The first phase of the NAS project involves the development of 25,000 square meters of land for the sports facility, and has already used up some P557 million of the country's budget.

As of June 1 this year, the first phase is already 94 percent completed, according to officials.

Reyes hoped they would get support from the incoming Marcos administration as they plan to provide student athletes with "international exposures." 

"We are expecting the same support and maybe more from the new administration," she said.

"Siyempre, ang needs ng students ay nag-iiba, at ibig sabihin we have an increased number of students. So ibig sabihin, our budget will be increasing," said the official. 

"The demands will also be increasing. So hope the next administration will have a look on the needs of the athletes," she added.

The country took home 4 medals during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics — a record haul. Filipino athletes delivered a gold, courtesy of weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz; 2 silvers from boxers Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam; and a bronze from another boxer, Eumir Marcial.

This year, the Philippine team secured more than 200 medals in the Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam, including 52 golds and 70 silvers, considered as the country's most productive haul in the regional games it did not host.

The country placed fourth.

— With additional reporting from Joyce Balancio, ABS-CBN News