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By Ronnie Nathanielsz

Sun, 28 Jun 2015

The overall performance of the Philippines in the recently concluded Southeast Asian Games in Singapore was, to say the least, an unmitigated disaster.

There s no way any rational human being can claim that just because we finished sixth overall compared to a lowly seventh place finish in Myanmar it was an improvement since the number of gold medals we won were the same ? 29 ? both in Myanmar and Singapore.

What is even more telling is that the size of our delegation to Singapore was almost twice as big as the number of athletes we sent to Myanmar.

One would have expected a corresponding increase in the number of gold medals but it was not to be although we had more silver and bronze medals this time around.

What does that tell us? That we are not good enough to finish on the top in many sports disciplines and have to be content in playing second or third fiddle!

Thank God for dual citizenship. Otherwise, the Philippines would have been in the gutter without the stars in athletics, our Rugby sevens squad and our tennis players to name a few.

We have absolutely nothing but praise for the Fil-foreigners who have the courage to accept the land of their mother?s birth and to represent the country with commitment and passion.

They also set a compelling example of dedication and hard work which probably is best exemplified by the rugby players who trained relentlessly in their quest for gold and were rewarded with a scintillating sweep.

There are lessons to be learned from these young men and women.
The athletic stars may be black and the rugby players fair, but there was never any doubt that their hearts didn?t reflect the color of their skin but rather the indomitable spirit of the Filipino.

There were of course our reliable batters and pitchers in men?s and women?s softball while our sometimes cocky basketball players, young as they are, were indeed lucky to get past Thailand and Singapore who didn?t resort to the individual style of the Filipinos so enamored with pro basketball but lived up to the fundamental philosophy that basketball is a team game.
Our women?s team lost a golden opportunity to duplicate the feat of the men but end-game errors cost us dearly aside from what we heard was the debilitating politics in the sport.

Our boxers were a beacon for all to see and to hopefully learn from in terms of the leadership of the ABAP national sports association under president Ricky Vargas and a friend of almost a lifetime, Ed Picson, whose dedication on a daily basis to ensure the best for our boxers and an excellent coaching staff was unbelievable.

Picson?s unwavering faith in the skill and courage of the young men and women who represented the country in glorious fashion winning five gold, three silver and 2 bronze medals and the inspiring leadership of Vargas who fended off uncalled for attempts by Philippine Sports Commission chairman Richie Garcia and to a lesser extent POC president Peping Cojuangco to take the ABAP to task for not fielding Mark Anthony Barriga and Charly Suarez who they felt were sure gold medal winners, drove home in unerring fashion the reality that quality NSA leaders know what they are doing and don?t need to be told what to do.
If we are blessed with the same kind of leadership in the other key NSAs and more importantly the POC and the PSC, then and only then will there be any hope for us to achieve the success the Philippines enjoyed under Gintong Alay executive director and POC president Michael Keon who raised us from the lowest level in the Asean and SEA Games competitions, through the Asian Games and onto the fringes of the Olympics.

If there was one blatant example of incompetence and a callous disregard for our country?s good name was in aquatics where two male divers put on a pathetic performance that was ridiculed around the world.

Turns out they trained for only four days which raises the question how in the name of sanity were they included in the team.

The head of the NSA, Mark Joseph claimed it was a lack of funding and training facilities, conveniently forgetting the P40 million he received directly from former PAGCOR head Ephraim Genuino in violation of the law which requires all funds to be coursed through the PSC.

To compound the felony the allegation that has hung around for years is that part of the P40 million was ploughed back into the Trace Swimming facility in Laguna raising the question, why the claim that there were no proper training facilities.

Joseph has clung to his position courtesy of Cojuangco when any other self-respecting NSA head would have resigned or been kicked out by the POC president. But Cojuangco too has been clinging to his position like a leech with the latest word that he plans on seeking another term after the 2016 Brazil Olympics.
All we can say is God please help our country survive this horrible man-made disaster!

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