Barely three months into his post, PATAFA president Phillip Ella Juico watched helplessly at the stands as the Philippine Athletics contingent failed to win a single medal in the recent Incheon Asian Games.
But this disappointing performance is not attributable to his leadership. This performance is still attributable to the former president, Go Teng Kok (GTK).
In the same context, that the last Asiad medal in the 1994 Hiroshima Games brought home by Elma Muros Posadas was not attributable to GTK. As that was the fruit of labor of the Jose Sering who served as PATAFA head from 1986 to 1991.
After another debacle, the question now is where to go from here?
I can think of three questions which President Juico should take into consideration as he map out his strategy:
a. What are the plans of PATAFA to improve on its performances and be a contender at the Asian continental level and at the world level.
b. How to support and develop the few identified athletes who can make it to the world stage.
c. What to reform in the system.
It is quite satisfying that PATAFA has allied themselves with British American Tobacco CEO Jim Lafferty on the development of athletics. What’s great about this partnership are:
- Both Juico and Lafferty are exposed to the corporate world and will not settle for a regional supremacy. That’s what’s wrong with GTK, his aim was always to win medals at the SEA Games. What we need is to aim for respectability at the Asian and global stage;
- Lafferty’s influence will dilute the internal politics inside PATAFA. This will open doors for reforms to come in in the organization and attract coaches and athletes with the right attitude. This will eventually professionalize the coaches ranks and install an evaluation system that are long overdue;
- Laffety has long been conscious of the athlete’s food and nutrition. This will really force PATAFA to evaluate and monitor the athlete’s food intake;
- This partnership will attract more private corporate funding for PATAFA. For a long time, businessmen and corporations snubbed PATAFA sponsorships because of the shady personalities surrounding the organization. But with PATAFA’s association with Lafferty, the NSA has now slowly winning the trust and confidence of the business world due to Lafferty’s credibility.
This early into the partnership, Jim Lafferty already came up with the Adopt an Olympian program. This is very similar to the Public and Private Partnership (PPP) strategy of the Aquino administration in its infrastructure upgrade. I believe that this is the right way to go. Congress should also take a look into passing a law which will give additional tax breather to corporations who will support individual athletes or a team in preparation for the Olympics and/or World Championship.
Last week, one of the sports headlines was Congressman Yeng Guiao is proposing a P1B budget for the PSC annual funding. While I tip my hat off to the Honorable Congressman, P1B is really not enough for all the NSAs of the country. Not to mention the sustainability of the funding. What is needed is a PPP in the sports. Just like what businessman Manny Pangilinan is doing with Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas (SBP).
For Marestella Torres, Jesson Ramil Cid and other athletes who will be included in the Adopt an Olympian program, I suggest that PATAFA hire specialized coaches to hone their skills and prepare them mentally as well. At first, the coaches can be foreigners as we really don’t have the technical know hows in the jumps and throws. What is important is to have a transfer of knowledge to the athletes being coached.
With Lafferty’s entry in the PATAFA picture, I firmly believe that the Philippines will witness a renaissance in Athletics. We will not feel the effects of this reforms in the next two years, but starting 2017, you can bet that the Philippines will be relevant again in the Asian Continental level, and the global stage by 2020.