Press Release
May 10, 2011

Philippine High School for Sports Act
Sponsorship speech

"Aiming for Sports Excellence"
Senator Edgardo J. Angara

Filipinos love sports, without a doubt. We hail our athletes as modern-day heroes, accord them the highest respect and adulation. But how good Filipinos are in sports is another matter.

Through 20 Olympic Games since 1924, we have won nine medals - two were silver and seven bronze. However, the Olympic gold medal has eluded us for 87 years now.

In the Asian Games, we have bagged a total of 364 medals, of which 62 are gold. This places us among the 10 winningest out of 42 countries. But note that the top three nations - Japan, China and Korea - have medals in the thousands.

In the Southeast Asian Games, we are fourth in the medal tally among 11 nations, behind Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.

I do not mean to undervalue our athletes' achievements. On the contrary, we should be immensely proud of our athletes for these hard-fought victories, for triumphing in spite of the shortcomings of our national sports infrastructure and policies.

However, we have to acknowledge the fact that we are not as competitive in the international sporting arena as we would like to be.

Filipinos are not lacking in talent or skill, of that I am certain. Filipinos can easily develop agility and speed. We show admirable endurance and tenacity. And when Filipino athletes compete, they do so not in the name of personal glory but for national pride.

But without appropriate training and support, raw talent can only go so far. We cannot expect to produce another Manny Pacquiao without an environment and a culture that cultivates sports development.

Promoting sports

A study published in the Journal of Sports Economics1 analyzes the factors that contribute to Olympic success of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Demography determines the breadth and depth of the pool of talent available in a country.

In terms of geography, a temperate climate seems to be more conducive to fostering sporting interest at the informal level of children playing in fields and parks.

The level of economic development influences a country's spending on community welfare, which includes sports.

The study also suggests that strong centralized governments tend to allocate a greater share of national resources toward projects that promote national prestige, such as sports.

Finally, a culture that nurtures sports is likely to produce athletes.

Through policymaking, the government can influence these factors directly and indirectly. One way is to take a two-pronged strategy for sports development.

First, we have to develop a broad base of talent at the grass roots. This way, we can also inculcate interest and aptitude in sports, especially among the youth. Then, we should identify the most promising and talented athletes and put them up for elite training.

In some of the most successful sporting countries, sport activities do not exist in a vacuum - it is nurtured in special schools.

Russia created sports schools as early as the 1930's. These are of three kinds: Children and Youth Sports School, Olympic Reserve School and School of High Sports Mastery.

Germany's Children's and Youth Sports Schools has produced many of the country's athletes for the Olympic Games.

Australia supports elite training through the Australian Institute of Sport which provides 700 athlete scholarships every year. At the same time, Australia promotes sports in the grass roots level through the likes of the Westfields Sports High School in Sydney and Endeavour Sports High School in New South Wales.

China has 3,000 of these special schools for athletes, probably the biggest network in the world.

Canada's National Sport School acts as a special school that provides the academic program for its elite athletes being trained in different Olympic sports.

Among our Asian peers, there are the Singapore Sports School, Bukit Jalil Sport School in Malaysia, Andra Pradesh Sports School in India and the Sports School in Brunei. Thailand has 11 sports schools under its Department of Physical Education.

Clearly, these special athletics academies have significantly boosted - and will continue to boost - the performance of these nations in international sporting tournaments. It is our hope to do the same for our country.

Hence, we seek to establish our very own Philippine High School for Sports (PHSS) to develop world-class athletes, as well as encourage the Filipino youth to excel in both sport and education.

The PHSS will have a curriculum consisting of an academic component, which emphasizes multiple intelligence development, and a sports component, which focuses on six disciplines, namely athletics, basketball, boxing, football, taekwondo and tennis.

It will be our premier laboratory school for the holistic training of future Filipino athletes.

But make no mistake - we are not only after earning medals in competitions. The ultimate goal of the PHSS is to promote the values of excellence and sportsmanship among our youth.

We want the future students of the PHSS to serve as models to young Filipinos that one can do well in sports without neglecting their education. Conversely, we want to encourage our youth to take up physical activities and avoid a sedentary lifestyle that will be detrimental to their health in the long term.

Mr. President, we are a proud nation of sports fans. We can also be a proud nation of sports champions. Having internationally victorious athletes does not have to be a rare occurrence with sufficient infrastructure, funding and training support. Let us build a sports culture befitting our passion.

Thank you.

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