THE second professional sports summit organized by the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) was successfully held on Saturday.

Done virtually to adapt to the prevailing conditions with the coronavirus pandemic, the summit, which had the theme “Innovative Leadership in Crisis,” gathered various stakeholders for a day-long discussion of various matters geared towards shoring up different facets of the local professional sports scene, especially amid the ongoing health and safety concern.

Present and participated in different online activities were professional sports athletes and legends, government leaders, coaches, trainers, and sports advocates.

For the second time around, Sen. Sonny Angara, who is also the chairman of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, participated in the summit, and took the opportunity to highlight in his message the achievements of Philippine sports legends like Manny Pacquiao, Paeng Nepomuceno, and Eugene Torre, and how they are an inspiration for current and aspiring athletes to do well in their respective fields.

Also giving his message was Sen. Joel Villanueva, a former member of the University of Santo Tomas men’s basketball team, who encouraged all stakeholders to forge ahead despite the difficulties presented by the pandemic.

“We are ‘TEAM Pilipinas’ and just like what our sports legends showed in the past, we will win in this fight [against the pandemic],” Mr. Villanueva said in the vernacular.  

International guests who attended the online summit were World Boxing Council President Mauricio Sulaiman, WBC Cares International Chairperson Jill Diamond, former Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Best Import-turned-school dean Sean Chambers, and sports psychologist and John F. Kennedy University alumna Dr. Sheryll Casuga.

Meanwhile, world boxing legend Gerry Penalosa, world pool legends Efren Bata Reyes and Django Bustamante, professional motocross champion Jovie Saulog, esports pioneer Julius Mariano, PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial, sports lawyer Mickey Ingles, UP Octa Research member Dr. Rodrigo Ong, international boxing referee Atty. Danrex Tapdasan, Pilipinas Golf Tours, Inc. member Jack Imperial, Sunrise Events General Manager Princess Galura, Philippines Football League Commissioner Mikhail Torre, Premier Volleyball League President Ricky Palou, and PBA stars LA Tenorio, and Matthew Wright joined the live press conference and gave their lectures about their best practices and inspirational talks to the virtual audience.

Given the reception it got, GAB Chairman Baham Mitra expressed his gratitude to all the participants as well as the entire professional sports community for their cooperation during the tough time with the pandemic.

“The Professional Sports Summit exceeded our expectations. During the start of the year when the pandemic started, the future of sports was very dark and with no hope in sight. Who would have known at the end of the year and even in the midst of the pandemic, that the GAB family would grow into having to welcome and embrace more members of its pro sports family,” he said.

Adding, “This year has been more than fruitful for the agency and we have been able to achieve so much with the help of our stakeholders, media friends, government agencies who helped us push for sports resumption to continue to provide livelihood to the ProSports industry and the Filipino fans, with or without the pandemic, who continue to provide their love and support to the industry.” — Michael Angelo S. Murillo