Final push for SEA Games
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - June 13, 2019 - 12:00am

 With less than six months to go before the SEA Games reel off, the POC is releasing P100,000 to NSAs participating in the 11-nation conclave from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 to fuel the final push in preparing for the competition.

There are 56 sports in the SEA Games schedule. The POC roster of NSAs lists 42 regular, 13 associate and 11 recognized members. The allocation of P100,000 is supposed to be for each sport. However, in the case of baseball and softball, they are considered one sport under Category 2 in this year’s SEA Games. Since baseball and softball are governed by separate NSAs, it’s likely the allocation will be for each NSA. Another unique case is hockey. The NSA is Pilipinas Larong Hockey which covers field hockey. In the SEA Games calendar, field hockey and ice hockey are listed as separate sports under Category 2 and underwater hockey is also a separate sport under Category 3. So while hockey is governed by only one NSA, there are three hockey sports in the SEA Games. The POC will decide whether to allocate P100,000 for the hockey NSA or P300,000 for each hockey sport in the SEA Games.

Sports in the SEA Games calendar without an NSA in the current POC directory are polo, e-sports and kurash. If the POC gives baseball and softball a P100,000 budget each, the total amount for distribution will be P5.7 million assuming hockey will receive P300,000 for three separate sports. The rule of thumb should be each sport, not necessarily each NSA, will be given financial assistance for the final push because it is the sport, not the NSA, that is counted in the allocation of medals. The official statement from the POC is the assistance is for the training of athletes vying for a slot in the SEA Games.

POC secretary-general Patrick Gregorio said the goal is to source P100 million in sponsorships by the end of the year and 90 percent of the target has been reached. When POC president Ricky Vargas took over the helm last year, the private sector immediately responded by donating P76 million broken down into P50 million from San Miguel Corp., P20 million from the MVP Sports Foundation and P6 million from the PBA. The show of support was unprecedented in POC history. Milo later added to the POC treasure chest with a sponsorship of P1.225 million and Summit Water, P1 million. Another sponsor is Toyota which will take up the balance of the P3.453 million total bill for a 29-seat Coaster to add to the P1.5 million grant given by the Olympic Council of Asia for a POC vehicle. The Max’s Group also confirmed a P10.5 million sponsorship for athletes competing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

With a healthy financial condition, the POC was able to distribute P14.9 million as a reward for Filipino medalists in the last Asian Games and Youth Olympics. Gregorio said every centavo collected by the POC will go to the athletes. “We can do a lot more if only we could isolate sports from politics,” he said.

San Miguel Corp. sports director Alfrancis Chua, who represents Barangay Ginebra in the PBA Board of Governors, said Vargas’ leadership was the reason for the conglomerate’s all-out support to the POC. “We have a lot of respect for Mr. Vargas who is also our PBA chairman,” said Chua. “Although our teams are fierce rivals on the court, he has always conducted himself with fairness, competence and professionalism. That is why San Miguel Corp., through our president Ramon S. Ang, did not think twice in showing full support to Mr. Vargas’ programs in the POC.”

With PSC chairman Butch Ramirez as the SEA Games chef de mission and the POC moving forward, the stage is set for a successful staging of the conclave. The effort is for flag and country, nothing else, with the athletes committed to fight until the end.

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