New board voted for squash
Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - August 16, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - A new Board was elected without opposition by stakeholders, players and coaches of the Squash Rackets Association of the Philippines (SRAP) in a smooth transition of leadership during a general membership meeting in Makati the other day.

There was no POC observer in the polls as POC first vice president Joey Romasanta said earlier certain provisions in the SRAP Constitution and By-Laws must be amended to conform to guidelines before the POC grants recognition. Romasanta advised the SRAP to proceed with the elections on condition the new Board institutes the amendments in consultation with POC legal counsel Ramon Malinao. Upon the approval of the amendments, the new Board will call another election to formalize POC recognition.

Outgoing SRAP president Allan Tantoco said before stepping down, the previous Board made sure all advances from the PSC were liquidated. “We’re leaving the SRAP with a clean slate,” he said. “We didn’t enter into contracts that will bind the new Board. We’ve given way to new blood and we’re honored to have worked for the development of the sport we love.”

In his annual report, Tantoco paid tribute to the PSC for supporting squash, the national team that brought home three bronze medals from the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Singapore, Louis Bronsveld and Jennifer Bacatio for financing the training of player Myca Aribado in Amsterdam and Tweetie de Leon-Gonzalez for organizing the recent Celebrity Squash Challenge at the Manila Polo Club. Tantoco cited the PSC for funding the training of the national team in Malaysia before the SEA Games and giving the players the chance to show their mettle in Singapore. He said he would notify the World Squash Federation, based in England, and the Asian Squash Federation, based in Malaysia, of the change in leadership.

Voted to the new Board were Bobby Bachmann, Vince Abad Santos, Joey Mabilangan, Romy Dona and Edgar Balleber. Five of six sports clubs with squash facilities were represented in the meeting – Palms Country Club by Beann Anonas, Makati Sports Club by Gilbert Balasbas, Nomads by Lourdes Espeleta, Rockwell by Roel Supangco and Alabang Country Club by Michael Ocampo. The mandate was resounding as 22 of 23 players, coaches and former Board members over the last 10 years attended.

The transition of leadership was a display of sportsmanship. While the sport has been plagued by a war of factions over the last two years, the stakeholders came together to elect the new Board without controversy. Unlike other NSAs wracked by internal dissension, the SRAP exhibited a high degree of professionalism.

Supangco nominated the five new Board members. Tantoco and Jovie Vilar were nominated from the previous Board but declined the nomination to give the new leadership a free hand in leading the SRAP. A member of the new Board is Balleber, an international squash referee and six-time SEA Games medalist.

Abad Santos said the new Board is grateful to the POC for its guidance. “The first order of the day is to be compliant with POC guidelines as regards the SRAP Constitution and By-Laws,” he said. “Once we’ve made the necessary amendments, we’ll call for an election to confirm POC recognition. Our immediate goal is to unify the squash community. We want to reach out to everyone involved in squash to join hands to promote our sport.”

Abad Santos said one of the new Board’s priorities is to make an inventory of the existing squash courts in the country. “We want every squash court to be utilized,” he said. “We heard some courts are being converted to a room for prayer or table tennis or martial arts training. Once we’ve identified the courts, we’ll do programs to activate squash in those courts. We’ll organize exhibitions and provide coaches, particularly in condos where there are idle squash courts. The new Shangri-La Hotel in the Fort will have two world-class courts so that’s a positive development for our sport.”

Abad Santos said the new Board will elect officers within the week. “There’s a lot of work to be done and we’re all excited to get going,” he said. “By last count, there are only about 150 active squash players in the country. We hope to add to that number. We’ve been talking about a public court now for years but nothing has happened. We intend to push through with that plan to make squash accessible to the public. We’ll look into bringing in a portable court so we can demonstrate the excitement of squash in malls. We’ll bring tournaments to the different squash courts, we’ll develop more junior players through a grassroots program and we’ll try to persuade schools to include squash in their PE program.”

Abad Santos said building up the elite corps is a priority so the Philippines is represented competitively in international tournaments. At the moment, the national pool consists of Robert Garcia, Ricky Espinola, David Pelino, Dondon Espinola, MacMac Begornia and female player Aribado. The PSC provides an allowance for trainers Ricky Espinola, Danny Sablan and Ricky Paganpan. Abad Santos said the new Board will request the PSC to provide allowances for coaches Jun Paganpan, Jaime Ortua, Balleber and possibly, a foreign coach.

Squash is in the short list for inclusion in the calendar of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The sport is perfect for Filipinos because it does not require height nor heft for a player to excel.

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