By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
WHILE on a high after the country dominated the 30th Southeast Asian Games on its way to bagging the overall championship, national athletes expressed hope that the gains made in this year’s edition of the biennial regional sporting meet be sustained even as they underscored the key role that national sports associations (NSAs) play in ensuring that programs succeed.
Gathering in a “champions summit” early this week, days after the SEA Games held here concluded, local athletes took time to share their take on their recent campaign, highlighting the improved support they got from the government, specifically through the Philippine Sports Commission, as having a big hand in their spirited showing in the Games which resulted in the Philippines topping the event anew after 14 years with a total medal haul of 149 gold, 117 silver and 121 bronze medals.
It is a support, which included providing international exposure for athletes, they hope to get to be sustained moving forward so as not to put to waste the gains Philippine sports had achieved in this year’s SEA Games.
Also brought to the fore by the athletes was the NSAs’ role in getting programs sustained.
“More than the government support, the NSAs’ support is also important,” said Cheska Altomonte, a member of the Philippine women’s softball team which bagged a gold medal, at the champions summit held on Tuesday at Conrad Hotel in Pasay City.
“We cannot solely depend on the support of the government. The NSAs, too, have to find the right funding for us, it works hand in hand. It starts with the NSA. The program has to be good enough to build on and be sustained,” added Ms. Altomonte.
Her views were shared by Jake Letts, a former athlete and now general manager of the Philippine Rugby Football Union, Inc., who also added that an open line of communication among all stakeholders of a particular sport would go a long way.
“Transparency between organization, athletes, coaches and sports administrators is very important. And the line of communication has to be open to make any program better,” said Mr. Letts, whose men’s and women’s team won gold and silver, respectively, in the recently concluded SEA Games.
“The responsibility of the NSA is to ensure that the sport has sufficient funding not only from the government but also private partnerships. To have them get behind the athletes. The more support a sport can get the better,” he added.
Mr. Letts went on to say that work has to continue for Philippine sports in general.
“Everyone now is on a high because of the result (of the SEA Games). But the truth is, every NSA should do their review in the next two weeks because every great NSA and athlete knows that the next phase is just around the corner,” he said.