Wish list for 2016 (Last of Two Parts)
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - January 1, 2016 - 9:00am

For the PBA to institutionalize the position of President/CEO who will provide the vision and direction for the pro league’s future. The retirement of Chito Salud as President/CEO was a shocker particularly as the position was in capable hands. But with Salud’s withdrawal, the PBA must recognize the importance of retaining a President/CEO.

The PBA has a lot of mapping to do. The three-conference format, the coordinated scheduling with Gilas’ FIBA commitments, the improvement of officiating, the progress of merchandising, the rationale of expansion, the interaction with media and the imperative of maintaining competitive balance are issues that should be addressed in 2016. The PBA has a special place in the heart of every Filipino sports fan and it’s our wish for the pro league to remain relevant, vibrant and exciting for the years to come.

• For the Azkals to keep improving until they make the grade for the FIFA World Cup and the AFC Asian Cup. The Philippines had dropped out of the Asian qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup but is still in contention for the AFC Asian Cup in 2019. Two matches are scheduled in March to determine if the Azkals will remain a contender for the Asian Cup which the Philippines has never qualified for despite entering the international scene way back in 1913.

The Azkals will play Uzbekistan in Tashkent on March 24 and North Korea in Manila on March 29. While the Azkals have been eliminated from the Asian qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, they’re playing out the schedule for the last two matches which form part of the qualifying process for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. Coach Tom Dooley has done a solid job in steering the Azkals to the next level. The outlook for Philippine football has never been this bright.

• For all NSAs to conform to the principles and standards set by the POC. The goal is for the POC to clean up the NSA ranks by early 2016. That means resolving election-related, membership, program and financial issues. Romasanta said more and more NSAs are falling in line to conform to the principles of good governance, transparency, ethics and conduct as prescribed by the IOC charter. He said the POC must also settle pending issues of NSA applications.

Romasanta said the case of the Squash Rackets Association of the Philippines stands as an example for all NSAs in that a change of leadership transpired without anyone resorting to court action or mud-slinging. An orderly election was held with stakeholders duly recognized as legitimate voters. The transition of leadership was smooth and unopposed. Warring factions within a sport must also find a common ground to reconcile. There is strength in unity and if a compromise is the best solution, then parties must be willing to sacrifice for the good of the country.

• For more diligent and competent foreign coaches to influence the growth of Philippine sports. It must be admitted that certain sports aren’t progressing because athletes aren’t given the right direction to excel. NSAs shouldn’t close their doors to foreign coaches whose knowledge is key to opening the eyes of athletes to new techniques, strategies and tactics.

Tab Baldwin’s arrival on the Gilas bench is a clear illustration of the SBP’s dynamic thinking. ABAP has also recruited a foreign coach Chris Cain of England to boost the country’s campaign of qualifying boxers for Rio. Foreign coaches may not just be for particular sports. They may be experts in nutrition, strength and conditioning, psychology and tactics to encompass a variety of sports. The POC, PSC and NSAs should determine which type of foreign coaches will be helpful to propel Philippine sports to new heights.

• For a more efficient staging of the Philippine National Games, Batang Pinoy and Palarong Pambansa. Different working groups are involved in organizing these annual events which are critical in discovering and preparing athletes for the future. They must be closely coordinated and roles must be identified to avoid overlapping and conflicting responsibilities. A proper scheduling of the events is necessary to maximize participation not only of the athletes but also the sports officials tasked to supervise the competitions.

Happy New Year to one and all!

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