MANILA, Philippines -- Higher education institutions (HEIs) in the Philippines are "enthusiastic" in working together as they boost their respective sports programs.
Popoy De Vera, chairman of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), said this is one of the accomplishments of the Unified Tertiary Sports Program which CHED and the Philippine Sports Commission signed in March.
"We're creating better pathways for our sports-inclined young people to develop," De Vera said in a press conference on Wednesday. "We are creating synergy in higher education because the different schools, the different associations, are enthusiastic in working together."
"I think that is a breakthrough in tertiary sports."
De Vera said there is much to look forward to in terms of the progress of the "sports career of young Filipinos."
He highlighted the establishment of the National Sports Academy (NAS), the country's first school dedicated to student-athletes, catering to junior to senior high school students.
De Vera is part of the academy's board of trustees.
Meanwhile, CHED executive director Cinderella Filipina Benitez-Jaro said they are set to present the Unified Tertiary Schools Sports Development Framework to the country's HEIs.
"We are able to bring the different HEIs -- whether SUCs (state universities and colleges), private higher education institutions, [or] sports associations -- in the fold for us to work on this Unified Tertiary Schools Sports Development Framework," she said.
CHED also held a national consultation of the Republic Act 11180 or the Athletic Programs Report Act, which mandates all educational institutions to undertake regular sports activities in cooperation with athletic clubs and other sectors.
To achieve this, De Vera said the "first link to be established" is between CHED, PSC, and the Department of Education (DepEd): DepEd, which covers the sports development of athletes until senior high school; CHED, for student-athletes in higher education; and PSC, to assist the development of sports.
The next step would be to coordinate with HEIs and their sports associations.
"Talagang ang target ng CHED is to invigorate sports in schools. Doon muna ang immediate target namin. Iyong pagpunta ng athletes from schools to the national sports associations, that will be a logical progression of linkages," De Vera shared.
"Maayos lang natin ang sports sa schools, I think that will be a dramatic achievement already compared to before. Kasi dati hindi nag-uusap-usap. At least ngayon, nag-uusap."
De Vera added RA 11180 will help professionalize schools' sports programs and improve management of sports facilities, among others, with a more "data driven" decision making.