PHILIPPINE sports have slowly deteriorated in competence and relevance in the last decade not because of untalented athletes, but rather because of leadership of sports officials.
The country exited the 29th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Kuala Lumpur with its worst outing in 18 years, collecting a measly 24 gold medals from the projected 50 by the officials.
As things stand, 83-year-old Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr. should give up the leadership to someone with a fresher mind and a clearer vision for Philippine sports because ever since his presidency, the country’s performance in international sports has severely dipped.
Team Philippines’ best performance came in 2005, when it hosted the Games in Manila and bagged 113 golds. Coincidentally, it was the same year Cojuangco Jr. first assumed the post.
But the country slowly saw itself winning less and less gold medals with every passing SEA Games, And the 24-gold haul this year is the latest debacle in the sinking ship that is Philippine sports.
Cojuangco has since brushed off pleas for him to step down. In fact, he has never held himself or his officers accountable for past disasters, why should he hold himself accountable now. Filipino athletes have been weighed down by bad politics and terrible sports leadership that one of their main training grounds, the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, had been offered for demolition by the Philippine Sports Commission to Mayor Joseph Estrada, the ousted president and convicted plunderer, who wanted to sell the land for private mall development. Sports officials have not moved their best foot forward – or not moved at all – in terms of sustaining our athletes’ needs and putting the sportsmen’s interests ahead of the officials’.
Although the sports complex was ultimately preserved by the government, it would have been a new low in this governing sports office – as if the worsening track record of the Philippines in international competitions is not enough.
Cojuangco does not seem to mind the veritable mess he’s in, not after he said everyone should just move forward to the country’s hosting of the 2019 SEAG. So he’s planning to stay on till 2019 and beyond it seems despite his disastrous leadership of the POC.
Moving on is what the concerned countrymen and other sports personnel have been telling Cojunagco. But maybe he and his hazy vision is what holds Philippine sports down.
What the athletes need is a stable and sound and effective sports development program, not an Olympic Committee president who’s overstaying and underperforming and clearly is out of touch with reality.