Philippine sports far from ‘Gintong Alay’ days

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Gintong Alay project was a strategic sports program spearheaded by Michael Keon in the 1980s that significantly improved that state of Philippine sports.

In a phone interview that aired on CNN Philippines’ Sports Desk on Wednesday, Sen. Sonny Angara, chairman of the Senate committee on games, amusement, and sports, briefly touched on Project Gintong Alay and how the country has veered away from the principles of that initiative.

“When I talked to the sports people, they really mentioned Gintong Alay as a role model... and the thing is, we’ve gone in the opposite direction,” said Angara.

“Gintong Alay was a government-directed sports program and now the government has taken a backseat to the private sectors.”

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With the program in place there was a significant improvement in Philippine sports which ultimately led to gold medals in international competitions, specifically in athletics.

But as time passed, the state of Philippine sports regressed.

After finishing first overall in the 2005 Southeast Asian Games, Philippines only placed sixth in the 2015 edition of the tournament.

“In the 1980s we were the best in Southeast Asia in many SEA Games. But since that first place finish in 2005, we have not come close to equaling that,” added Angara.

“What the government is prioritizing is the top ten (sports), I think that’s the instruction of [President Noynoy Aquino] when he took office.

"Given the scarce resources, he told the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) to focus on 10. But even with those 10 sports, we have not achieved the desired results as proven in the last SEA Games.”

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Angara added that better strategies should be put in place to encourage sports at the grassroots level, similar to what countries like Singapore and Myanmar do.

In need of a ‘world-class facility’

Another major factor for the underdevelopment of our sports programs is the lack of proper training facilities for the athletes.

“I don’t think we have a world-class facility to train our elite athletes… dapat binabahay talaga yan e," said Angara.

But according to the senator, a plan is to build an arena is already in place.

"The PSC is actually proposing an elite sports center to be built somewhere in the north in Clark,” added Angara.

“It’s nothing too fancy, it will cost around 2 billion (pesos), but if it’s the price we have to pay to catch up with the rest of the region or to maintain our previous dominance I think it’s worth it.”