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Dawn of a new era

PSC chairman William "Butch" Ramirez sees a bright future ahead for Phl sports under President Rodrigo Duterte with the re-launch of the Philippine Sports Institute yesterday. Philstar File Photo

CEBU, Philippines - Change looms in the horizon of Philippine sports with the re-launching of the Philippine Sports Institute, the government's chief driving force in its no-nonsense development program for both the grassroots and elite athletes.

The simple yet significant ceremony yesteday afternoon at the Multi-Purpose Arena of Philsports Complex in Pasig City was graced by the country's top sports officials led by Philippine Sports Commission chairman William 'Butch' Ramirez. Cabinet secretary Leoncio Evasco, Jr. delivered a keynote speech on behalf of President Rodrigo Duterte who couldn't come due to some other pressing matters.

Chairman Ramirez said the re-launch is in line with the Duterte administration's thrust in promoting and elevating the condition of sports in the country from the grassroots level to its elite level.

"The PSI is the Commission's arm that will focus on grassroots sports program that caters to community in towns, cities, municipalities and provinces. The Institute aims to lay a strong foundation for Philippine sports and youth development, bridge the gap in sports development and excellence, produce new breed of sports professionals, practitioners, leaders and athletes with high levels of competence, ethical and moral values and global competitiveness," said Ramirez in a statement.

The Institute was initiated by former PSC chairman Philip Ella Juico in 1996-1998 but was shelved after a change of administration. It was then revived by Ramirez way back his previous tenure as PSC chair in 2005 to 2009, where he served as PSI's dean.

Under Republic Act No. 6847, otherwise known as the "Philippine Sports Commission Act," this agency has the function to 'plan, implement and oversee an integrated amateur sports promotion and development program in coordination with various sectors involved in sports, both from the government and non-government organizations as well as from private sector."

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PSI National Training Director Mark Velasco said the biggest difference of PSI under the Duterte administration is its direct support from the president. That is very vital as the PSI serves as the centerpiece of the National Sports Development Program tasked to focus on the implementation of the grassroots sports program and provide high performance training solution to the elite and para-elite athletes.

On the other hand, PSI's Grassroots Sports Development Program, which deals with the athletes identification program, comes in four stages;1. the training of pool of researchers to educate Physical Education teachers to identify poential candidates for later sports enhancement;2. testing phase to apply the 'standard norms' developed by the Philippine Centre for Sports Medicine in determining the right candidate is utilized;3.talent selection to screen all prospective athletes; and 4. inclusion in the Smart Kids program. Those selection will be part of PSI's Elite Sports Program (ESP) for inclusion in the national pool of athletes.

As they look forward to a better tomorrow for Phl sports, Velasco sees potential of local government units in building the sports  excellence from the ground up.

"Here the league of mayors, as well as the league of governors will know that this is not just something for the elite athletes but for the grassroots as well. They will realize their their constituents can very much be opart of the national program," said Velasco, who has high hopes that the PSI's inauguration will give the national athletes and coaches a chance on how they will benefict from the Institute. (FREEMAN)

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