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Team Philippines assured of support — Fernandez

PHILIPPINE chef de mission to the 2021 SEA Games Ramon Fernandez reiterated their commitment to Team Philippines in its preparation by the biennial sporting meet. — PSC FB PAGE

PREVAILING conditions with the pandemic have made Southeast Asian Games (SEA) preparations of Team Philippines difficult, but chef de mission (CDM) Ramon Fernandez assured Filipino athletes continued support in their push.

In the online Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum on Tuesday, Mr. Fernandez shared that work for the SEA Games later this year in Vietnam has been manifold challenging as they grapple with the “limitations” in various forms during these trying times.

“This is a very unique situation. We are encountering this (pandemic) for the first time. Right now, we are just rolling with the punches and working with what is presented to us, adjusting to the varying situations and changes,” said the Team Philippines official.

Mr. Fernandez, however, was quick to say that they are working nonstop in coming up with the best possible setup of preparation for the athletes to produce quality representation in the biennial sporting meet in Hanoi from Nov. 21 to Dec. 2.

The SEA Games CDM, also a commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), said they are continuously coordinating with the various stakeholders, including the national sports associations (NSAs) and the Philippine Olympic Committee.

Mr. Fernandez said the PSC has allotted P200 million for the national athletes’ training and participation of the SEA Games, an amount that may not be enough but something they are trying to work with.

Given such a situation, the PSC official said they have talked to the NSAs if they could do their own fund raising to augment the funding of the training of their respective athletes while also appealing to local government units to come on board and support national athletes in their preparation.

“Teamwork is really needed right now and we are in discussion to come together and come up with the formula to go about things,” Mr. Fernandez said.

He went on to say that LGUs will play a key role, particularly in hosting athletes and teams with stricter lockdown setups in effect, especially in the Greater Manila Area because of the recent surge of coronavirus cases.

Mr. Fernandez said that maybe more LGUs in the provinces could accommodate Team Philippines, mentioning the experience of the fencing, decathlon, archery, weightlifting, and kickboxing teams, among others, which are currently doing their “bubble” trainings in areas in the country with less active coronavirus cases.

Despite the challenges, Philippine Basketball Association legend and former national athlete Fernandez said they will forge ahead and rally behind the athletes.

“We just have to keep a possible outlook. The road is not going to be easy, but we just have to learn along the way and adjust. We believe in the abilities of the Filipino athletes to be ready despite the challenges. We will help them as much as we can,” he said. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo