THE year in 2020 is a tough one for local sports as it continues to feel the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. But despite the challenges, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) has been able to produce results in accordance with its given mandate.

In a virtual press conference on Friday where the agency gave its yearend report, PSC Chairman William Ramirez shared that while their output could have been better, given the difficult circumstances they were made to operate they were still able to deliver from their end.

“We’re thankful that despite the limitations presented we were able to perform our task,” said Mr. Ramirez.

The PSC broke down its report of accomplishments for 2020 to six categories, namely: sports governance, sports awareness, sports accessibility, sports linkages, institutionalizing the Philippine Sports Institute (PSI), and coronavirus/calamity efforts.

Under sports governance, the PSC was proud to report that despite budget limitations it was able to provide the allowances of national team members.

In the middle of the year, it made the hard decision to slash by half said allowances as funds became scarce, but eventually was able to restore them to their normal levels with help from other agencies.

The PSC continued to plan and prepare for the country’s push for the rescheduled Tokyo Olympic Games, steadily communicating with chef de mission Mariano Araneta on the direction to take as well touching base online with those already Olympic-bound as well those still angling for spots to see where they are in their preparation and to keep their morale up.

Efforts were also made towards agency development and employee management, and non-athletic concerns of the national team (e.g. webinar on financial literacy and postings and information on general health).

Sports awareness comprised of efforts on social media, radio and print on the goings-on in the country’s sporting push amid the pandemic and holding of various online fora to shore up its grassroots and elite sports mission and vision.

Sports accessibility saw the agency, among other things, further highlighting gender equality and women empowerment, through programs like the ongoing web series Rise Up! Shape Up!.

The pandemic also had the PSC forging valuable links with various government agencies to help operate during the prevailing conditions with the pandemic.

The sports agency, for one, partnered with the Games and Amusements Board and the Department of Health in creating guidelines on the conduct of physical and sports activities during the pandemic, which paved the way for leagues like Philippine Basketball Association and Philippines Football League to stage tournaments.

The PSC also continued discussions with the departments of Education and Budget and Development as well as with legislators that led to the enactment of Republic Act 11470 or the National Academy of Sports law.

The PSI, which was put up to enhance the training and education of athletes and coaches, meanwhile, was fortified with various seminars and certification programs and constant performance updates.

The sports agency was active in the country’s battle against the pandemic, offering facilities under its supervision — Rizal Memorial Coliseum, Ninoy Aquino Stadium, and the Multipurpose Arena in PhilSports Complex — as coronavirus quarantine facilities.

It returned some P1.2 billion of its budget for the year to the national government to be rechanneled to efforts against the pandemic.   

The PSC, too, distributed care packages for youth and families of nearby communities.

Provisions were allotted as well for cash amelioration for athletes, through the help of Congress and Senate via Bayanihan Act II, and financial assistance for athletes hit by Typhoons Rolly and Ulysses.

While uncertainty still persists, Mr. Ramirez said they at the PSC will try their best to take the challenges head-on moving forward and continue to work for stakeholders, especially the athletes. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo