THE SUCCESSFUL campaign of Filipino athletes in the recently concluded Southeast Asian Games should inspire most especially youngsters who have potential in sports to hone their skills. In here enters the crucial role of local government units (LGUs) in discovering and training grassroots athletes.
The Local Government Code requires every town and city to have specific officers and offices with responsibilities over different aspects of their constituents’ lives, but there is no LGU Sports Officer or Sports Director. This gap would be a missing link in our country’s sports development program. Each LGU should have an office with staff and budget for sports.
Because this is not required by law, nobody’s focusing on this aspect – grassroots sports development. In most LGUs, sports is treated as an ad hoc concern and occasional priority especially during summer and when it is time for events leading to the Palarong Pambansa.
For example, there still are many provinces where football has not gained a foothold, not have at least one foot across the threshold. This is partly because there is no one always on the ground responsible for sports coordination, management, and training. But this is true not just for football but for many other sports as well.
With the country’s recent hosting of the SEA Games and our contingent’s success, we must come to realize that LGUs have to regard sports as a continuing priority with the staff and budget needed to sustain sports programs.
The SEA Games proved that we have many talented, world-class athletes down to the grassroots. We have to discover more of them, train them and support them. It’s not too late to start.