Romero: Grassroots program a must

Abac Cordero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – As he continues to push for the creation of a Department of Sports (DOS), Party List (1Pacman) Representative Mikee Romero is also batting for a solid grassroots development program aimed at discovering future champions.

Romero said during the two-day sports summit and consultative meeting among the country’s top sports leaders last week, he easily realized that there’s no one really in charge of grassroots development in the country.

“I asked PSC (Philippine Sports Commission) officials and DepEd (Department of Education) officials who’s in charge of grassroots sports. No one could give the answer. Nagturuan,” said the newly appointed representative.

“Not until we find the answer to this question will we ever come up with a solid grassroots program,” Romero told scribes in a breakfast meeting yesterday.

He said sports has been taken for granted for many years now, especially in schools under the DepEd. Imagine our young students taking P.E. (Physical Education) classes for less than one hour the whole week,” he said.

Romero said sports played a bigger role among the youth in the past, under the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) until it was transformed into DepEd.

“As the name (DepEd) suggests, they got rid of sports,” said Romero.

Even the Palarong Pambansa, a nationwide multi-sport competition among student athletes, does not really serve the purpose.

“How many events are played in the Palarong Pambansa? They don’t even play all the Olympic sports there. Last time I checked, weightlifting is not even included in its calendar,” said Romero, referring to the sport that delivered a silver medal for the country in the recent Rio Olympics.

“I asked officials on the absence of weightlifting in school-based events and the only reason I got was that officials thought that kids who go into weightlifting at a very young age don’t grow,” he said.

Romero said a solid grassroots program is needed so the country can discover talents at their raw stage, when they can be nurtured into athletes who can perform at the highest level, including the Olympics.

The former president of the national shooting association, who also had a hand helping develop cycling, basketball, volleyball and even polo, said what they normally discover are athletes who are already nearing or in their prime.

“We want to discover talents at the youngest age possible, and not when they are already grown-ups. Normally, these talents are discovered by the NSAs (national sports associations) only because they start winning their events,” he said.

What Romero wants is a grassroots program that will discover fresh, raw talent nationwide. He said so far, it only applies to basketball, like when a Kiefer Ravena comes up.

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