Re­minders for sports rel­e­vance

The Philippine Star - - SPORTS - By JOAQUIN M. HEN­SON

The au­di­ence was made up of the men and women who are the key play­ers in the grass­roots pro­gram for sports in Pan­gasi­nan. The six De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion dis­trict su­per­in­ten­dents were present, four rep­re­sent­ing the cities of Alaminos, San Car­los, Ur­daneta and Dagu­pan, one rep­re­sent­ing the first, sec­ond and third con­gres­sional dis­tricts and another rep­re­sent­ing the fourth, fifth and sixth con­gres­sional dis­tricts. Of­fi­cials of the Pan­gasi­nan State Uni­ver­sity were ac­counted for. The school has a stu­dent pop­u­la­tion of 21,000 spread across nine cam­puses in Asin­gan, Sta. Maria, Bin­ma­ley, Lin­gayen, San Car­los, Alaminos, Ur­daneta, In­fanta and Bayam­bang. Then there were town may­ors and vice may­ors, sports co­or­di­na­tors and even bas­ket­ball ref­er­ees in at­ten­dance for what Abono Party List Rep. Con­rad Estrella III called the first-ever sports sum­mit in Pan­gasi­nan.

It was ap­pro­pri­ate that Estrella staged the sum­mit in Rosales where his grand­fa­ther Con­rado served as Mayor to be­gin a leg­endary po­lit­i­cal ca­reer. Estrella’s grand­fa­ther later be­came a Con­gress­man, Gov­er­nor and Min­is­ter of Agrar­ian Re­form. A for­mer FEU bas­ket­ball player, his grand­fa­ther was a sports en­thu­si­ast who used to watch PBA and col­le­giate games in the sta­dium. He died in 2011 at the age of 93.

Estrella, 57, was elected to the eighth, ninth, 12th, 13th, 14th and 16th Con­gresses and now sits in the 17th. He’s the House Chair­man of the Com­mit­tee on Youth and Sports De­vel­op­ment and that’s why he’s taken a spe­cial in­ter­est in the coun­try’s slide in the re­cent SEA Games. Estrella re­cently called for an end to fence-sit­ting among sports of­fi­cials in the wake of the de­ba­cle in Kuala Lumpur.

** * *

I was in­vited to speak at the sum­mit and shared what I said were the 10 re­minders for sports of­fi­cials to be rel­e­vant in the crit­i­cal task of pro­mot­ing sports at the grass­roots level.

• It starts with you. The re­spon­si­bil­ity is on your shoul­ders. There should be no buck-pass­ing. The work is dif­fi­cult and te­dious. But as Estrella said, to con­struct a big and strong build­ing, you need a solid foun­da­tion and that means dig­ging deeper into the ground to es­tab­lish a firm base. Go­ing from town to town in search of young tal­ents is a chal­lenge in the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion stage. It re­quires pa­tience and a keen eye to dis­cover po­ten­tials. It also re­quires close co­or­di­na­tion with the PSC and the Philip­pine Sports In­sti­tute (PSI) in search­ing for young ath­letes who fit the mold in the coun­try’s pri­or­ity sports.

• Bas­ket­ball isn’t the only sport. The nat­u­ral at­trac­tion for young ath­letes is to play bas­ket­ball and vol­ley­ball which are widely pop­u­lar as TV sports. But in the re­cent SEA Games, ath­let­ics brought in 18 medals and taek­wondo, nine while bas­ket­ball had only one gold and vol­ley­ball, none. Taek­wondo, weightlift­ing, triathlon, swim­ming, cy­cling fenc­ing, archery and ath­let­ics are po­ten­tial gold mines in sports.

• Pan­gasi­nan is a hot­bed for sports

he­roes. It’s in the genes. Sports of­fi­cials don’t need to look else­where for a new breed of sports he­roes. Sen. Am­bro­sio Padilla, Danny Ilde­fonso, Marc Pin­gris, Mar­lou Aquino, Ana Ju­la­ton, C. J. Perez, Jac­into Si­cam, Rodolfo Tan Car­doso, Santi Bar­nachea and Jess Gar­cia are among Pan­gasi­nan’s sports icons.

• The key is par­tic­i­pa­tion. You’ll never know how good you are or can be un­less you par­tic­i­pate. It’s not just the win­ning, it’s also the tak­ing part. Par­tic­i­pa­tion will open doors and is the first step in the grow­ing process.

• Don’t hes­i­tate to reach out. There are spe­cial­ists in the PSC, PSI, POC and NSAs who are ready to pro­vide tech­nol­ogy, ad­vice, sup­port and re­sources for you to suc­ceed in guid­ing young ath­letes to re­al­ize their po­ten­tials.

• Share sto­ries of in­spi­ra­tion. Ris­ing to the top is never easy. Sports of­fi­cials and co­or­di­na­tors can mo­ti­vate young ath­letes to work and try harder by re­lat­ing how Sen. Manny Pac­quiao, C. J. Perez and even Michael Jordan over­came hefty odds to be over­achiev­ers. It was Estrella who dis­cov­ered Perez in Poz­zor­ru­bio and brought him to Manila where he even­tu­ally found a place with the Lyceum bas­ket­ball var­sity in the NCAA.

• Build sup­port sys­tems. You can’t do it alone. Par­ents, the com­mu­nity, coaches, teach­ers and those who are in a po­si­tion of in­flu­ence are com­po­nents of a sup­port group that can as­sist you. Young ath­letes need guid­ance from those who are sin­cere and have no hid­den agen­das.

• Stick to the plan. There must be a blue­print to fol­low, a short-term pro­gram that will evolve into medium and longterm. Fo­cus is ev­ery­thing. You need to pri­or­i­tize so you don’t get side-tracked.

Bal­ance is im­por­tant in lin­ing up your op­tions. You don’t want to fail be­cause there were too many things on your plate and you couldn’t de­cide where to start. The process in­volves train­ing and a step-by-step ap­proach to ex­po­sure to com­pe­ti­tion.

• Lead by ex­am­ple. Young ath­letes who are in their for­ma­tive years must re­al­ize the im­por­tance of un­com­pro­mis­ing prin­ci­ples and walk­ing the right path. Dis­ci­pline, work ethic and val­ues are build­ing blocks for the fu­ture. Sports of­fi­cials must show young ath­letes how it’s done and that only means lead­ing or liv­ing by ex­am­ple.

• Sports is the path­way to suc­cess in life. It’s a spring­board to a life-long ca­reer in busi­ness or pol­i­tics or ed­u­ca­tion or me­dia or sports. Young ath­letes must ap­pre­ci­ate that the in­vest­ment they put in to­day will reap div­i­dends in the fu­ture. The ex­am­ples of ath­letes who be­came prom­i­nent cit­i­zens of so­ci­ety be­yond sports are in the mil­lions and count on stars like Sen. Pac­quiao, Sen. Padilla, Sen. Robert Ja­worski and Sen. Tito Sotto.

At the sum­mit in Rosales, PSC chair­man Butch Ramirez de­liv­ered an in­spir­ing mes­sage of hope for the fu­ture and promised to sup­port the prov­ince in its sports de­vel­op­ment ef­forts. For sure, the sum­mit will go a long way in de­vel­op­ing fu­ture sports he­roes in Pan­gasi­nan.

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