The election of a new president and chairman at the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) last Thursday is a most propitious development the entire nation should seize as a signal opportunity to raise national sports to a new level.
From a bleak prospect of persistent failure and mediocre performance in international sports competition, we have been ushered into a new day of hope and rebuilding.
The installation of a new POC leadership team removes the barnacles long clamped on national sports by the 14-year presidency of Mr. Jose Peping Cojuangco, Jr., and the long-staying mafia behind him.
With the clamps finally out of the way and POC’s new president Ricky Vargas and chairman Abraham Tolentino now in place, the way is open for forging a resolute, sustained, comprehensive and finally unfailing program to fully develop Philippine sports.
We submit that the time has come for the Philippines to break through the glass ceiling in international sports competitions. That barrier has unfortunately set back national sports achievement and deluded some of our people into despair that an Olympic gold medal is beyond the reach of Filipino athletes and sportsmen.
That artificial barrier has served to discourage some of our Filipino athletes from delivering their best. But such a perception is more rumor than real. The truth is that Filipinos are among the best in many sports. In boxing, many talents like Manny Pacquiao have proven beyond the shadow of a doubt the capability of Filipino boxers. In pool, Filipinos are easily the most dominant, with several of our countrymen having reigned as world pool champions, including the incumbent. And so it is with other sports.
We say the glass ceiling of the Olympic gold medal is set for breaking by a Filipino athlete, or athletes.
If it is not broken in the next Olympics in Japan; it will surely happen in the next Olympiad.
All that is needed now is for the POC and its new leadership to fix their minds on the goal and do all that must be done.
All that is needed is for the government and our private sector to work together, raise all the necessary resources, and motivate our athletes to wrest the overarching goal – victory in the Olympics.
What is needed is for the POC to work closely with all our national sports associations (NSAs) to train and inspire our young athletes and hone their skills for international competition.
What is needed is for the Philippine Sports Commission to serve and lead as a true ministry of sports, and not just be a mere bureaucracy.
Two of the fundamental principles of the Olympic Charter are:
“1. The practice of sports is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sports, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.
2. Recognizing that sports occur within the framework of society, sports organizations within the Olympic Movement shall have the rights and obligations of autonomy, which include freely establishing and controlling the rules of sports, determining the structure and governance of their organizations, enjoying the right of elections free from any outside influence and the responsibility for ensuring that principles of good governance be applied.”
By staying true to the Olympic ideal, Philippine sports can realize the full and dynamic development of Filipino athletes. The Olympic gold medal will come, perhaps sooner than we think. That is what our 107 million people expect and deserve.
It’s time to make it happen.