WITH the Damocles Sword still hanging over the head of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) is starting to put the house in order starting January, 2017.
The PSC announces the launching of the Philippine Sports Institute (PSI) and tapped former Philippine Center for Sports Medicine, strength and conditioning coach Marc Velasco as PSI national training director.
PSC commissioner Ramon Fernandez said the PSI is patterned after successful sports programs of China, Japan England, Australia, Singapore and even Hong Kong where Velasco worked from 2007-2015.
“The PSI will concentrate on sports which really have medal potentials for 2020. We have interviewed our NSAs and two to four of them have potential medal success for 2020,” said Fernandez.
“With the creation of PSI, the PSC hopes to come up with a wholistic and scientific approach to a comprehensive grassroots development program,” explained Fernandez, who said the program will be made available in all corners of the country.
Fernandez said the Ateneo de Davao-educated Velasco is the perfect man for the job.
“We pulled out Marc (Velasco) to be our national training director, from the Hongkong Sports Institute where he worked the last eigh t years,” added Fernandez, one of the ‘PBA’s 25 Greatest Players.’
“He was the strength and conditioning coach and helped greatly in giving Hong Kong a gold medal in the Olympics. His office will also monitor the training of all national athletes (elite).”
“Right now, he is busy organizing the PSCPSI regional centers.”
Velasco was head of the PSC strength and conditioning Unit from 2002-2008 before transferring as Strength and Conditioning coach in the Hong Kong Sports Institute in February 2008. He was also perfomance specialist in Hong Kong from December 2013 up the present.
With Velasco overseeing the athletes' physical conditioning, Hong Kong captured its first-ever Olympic gold medal.
Meanwhile, the #ChangeTheGame and #LetRickyRun campaigns in the coming Nov. 25 elections of the Philippine Olympic Committee continue to pick up momentum even during the long holiday break in observance of the All Saints' Day.
This was after Fernandez himself released copies of the financial assistance given by the previous PSC to the POC, a move deemed illegal by the new PSC commissioner.
“The mandate of the PSC is to fund the athletes thru their respective NSAs but not the POC, as the POC has nothing to do with the training and preparing the athletes for competition. That is the responsibility of the NSAs. The POC merely certifies the athletes and officials that will go to the IOC organized games,” wrote Fernandez in reply to questions in various social media sites.
“From the creation of Republic Act 6847 -- the birth of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) -- in 1990, it was only in the years 2010 to 2016 that the PSC gave financial assistance to the POC. This over and above the FA that the PSC gave the NSAs since 1990.”
Fernandez said a total of P129, 607, 590.81 has been given by the old PSC as financialassistance to the POC from the period of January 2010 to June 2016.
“The COA (Commission on Audit) will have their hands full auditing PSCs FA to the POC in the years 2010-2016,” said the Cebu-based Fernandez.
“If you look at FAs in 2013, there’s an allocation of more than 16M, Asian Games Centennial Festival in Boracay. This was cancelled because of typhoon Yolanda. In 2014, there’s another 15M for the same event/ But I just found out now that this event was funded by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA).”
Cojuangco’s would-be opponent in the coming POC elections, Vargas, also continued to gain support from various stakeholders in sports.
PBA stars, led by Jimmy Alapag, have already started an online campaign with the hashtag #LetRickyRun in response to Vargas’ disqualification.
“We need to see advancements in our country’s sports programs right now… it’s been locked in the status quo for too long… we all know we can do so much better… if you want our Olympians to compete for a better medal count, they need more support, financial backing and guidance… it starts with leadership… let’s welcome change,” Alapag was quoted as saying.
Among the prominent PBA personalities supporting Vargas’ campaign are Al Panlilio, coaches Chot Reyes, Louie Alas and Ryan Gregorio, Asi Taulava, Gabe Norwood, Ranidel De Ocampo, Kelly Williams, Danny Seigle and Matt Roser.
Former PBA commissioner Chito Salud aso now serves as Vargas’ legal counsel.