Addressing The Alleged Corruption In The Philippine Olympic Committee
I went through the comments in my recent blogpost about the Philippine Olympic Team Ready To Win Gold At 2008 Beijing Olympics, and received a lot of comments about alleged corruption by the Philippine Olympic Committee, which apparently leads to the fielding of only 15 athletes for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The summary of the concern is – “Why only 15 Filipino athletes? Why wasn’t there more financial resources put in to add more athletes? And why is it that the support entourage outnumbers the athletes 3:1 including a Manny Pacquiao?”
Comment from Californian said something like, “Unfortunately, Philippines will not win any gold medal in Beijing Olympics. This does not mean that we do not have the best athletes in the world but that we do not have the best training facilities and the best training programs. This is a result of the the widespread corruption in the country where most of the governmental programs only exist in paper but are way far from achieving their goals.”
Ok. There were also a lot more said, and the basic question is where the hell is the funding for the Philippine Olympic Team, and why is there not enough to develop the training or to send more athletes? Is it really a case of government corruption?
Well, I’m not sure what the allocated budget is for the Philippine Olympic Committee, but the Philippine Olympic Committee has memberships from all sorts of national sports associations, or what they call as NSA’s. There are 38 regular member NSA’s of the Philippine Olympic Committee. Some of these NSA’s include the National Golf Association of the Philippines, National Chess Federation of the Philippines, Philippine Karatedo Federation, Philippine Amateur Baseball Association, Basketball Association of the Philippines, Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association, Philippine Football Federation and more. The full list of recognized and accredited national sports associations by the Philippine Olympic Committee is available here.
I’m not certain, but it is my belief that for them to be accredited and recognized by the Philippine Olympic Committee, they have to be able to show a national program in the development of their specific sport, and not just on paper, but by actually executing the program in a national level. One of the tasks of the NSA’s is to find smaller associations, and monitor and support them in the local programs they have for that particular sport.
For example, the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) is the national sport association that governs football in the Philippines and organize the Philippines National Football Team. The PFF also hosts the PFF National Men’s Open Championships, which is a national tournament that helps in the development of national football, and eventually acts as a stage with which to pick out the best players to represent the Philippines.
Now, the PFF has members from the Provinicial Football Associations for regions around the Philippines. There are about 30 of these Provincial FA’s from all over the Philippines. OF coures, each PFA has also its own member football clubs and associations. For example, the NCR FA has among its members – Kaya FC, Diliman FC, Philippine Army FC, San Beda College, Makati FC, Ateneo FC and more. Some are school-based teams, and some are extra-curricular clubs.
Now, competitions are held at the provincial level among the clubs registered with that PFA, then the top players are then invited by the PFA to represent that particular PFA in the National Tournament. That’s where the politics may begin, but then the decision to include anyone in the PFA, in this case the NCR FA, is really based on talent and hard work. It is usually awarded to the athlete who can dedicate their efforts and talent to training and hard work, and then once the National Tournament comes along, the picks on who will represent team Philippines for international competition will then be considered.
Once again I’m not sure, but the funds allocated to the Philippine Olympic Committee by the government budget will somehow have to trickle down to the National Sports Associations (NSA’s) of a particular sport, and then will trickle down again to the Provincial Sports Associations, to the schools or to the extra-curricular clubs who participate.
The funding is usually spent for coming up with tournaments and competitions at every level from provincial to national. And then, what remains will be left for training and for representation in international competition.
Now, to get to the Olympic stage is not just as easy as paying for a ticket and a registration fee, and saying I want to compete. Eventually, there are qualifications for entering the Olympics in other international competitions, such as the Southeast Asian Games or the bigger Asian Games. Of course, doing well in the SEA Games means you earn a trip to the next level, which are the Asian Games, and then if you do well there you get a spot to play in the Olympics against the rest of the other continents.
So, while we all hear of Filipino athletes bagging golds left and right in the SEA Games against the likes of Cambodia, VIetnam and Thailand, some of them drop out of their Olympic dream when they reach the stage of the Asian Games, where the competition includes the likes of China, Japan, Korea, Israel and more.
Of course, the qualifying process is different for every sport, but eventually the task of getting picked to go to the Olympics is not one that is made by the Philippine Olympic Committee itself. The Philippine Olympic Committee still has to go through the channels and deal with the various NSA’s, who in turn have to deal with all sorts of Provincial Sports Associations or Regional Sports Associations, and from there move on to the international qualification stages for the Olympics.
Another commenter on the post, taexrhs83, suggested going down to the grass roots level to develop sports training and such. Well, the grass roots in this case would be the schools, a huge percentage of them which are public schools, who can’t afford to pay the teachers or the renovation of classrooms, much less improve the school yard for a proper baseball field, or a proper basketball court. The local public school solicits from its local city mayor, and eventually the city mayor releases some funds, but of course, the school principal in charge of the funds prioritizes the purchase of textbooks instead of baseball gloves.
The city mayor and the congressman of the district pull together some funds to build a park, equipped with tennis, basketball and badminton courts, and sometimes that’s all they can do. The rest is left to the citizens of that area if they want to go get a badminton/tennis racket, or pick up a basketball. Sure, the young kids do it, and hopefully when they get to high school they won’t give in to the peer pressure of drinking and smoking, both of which are readily available in the nearest sari-sari store. And while the law says you can’t buy these products under the age of 21, who the fuck are you kidding?
Even little kids sell the cigarettes per piece for 2 pesos, and little boy Junior will always be asked by his uncle to go next door to get Emperador from Aling Nene, and Aling Nene will oblige little boy Junior.
Yup, the problems intertwine with all sorts of other things. Poverty mainly being the cause of what would stop one from being a successful athlete. Most parents can’t even afford a decent meal, let alone the proper shoes an athlete would require just to even run.
Of course, I’m just trying to give an objective view into how it works here in the Philippines. Give me time to do some research, and maybe we can get someone from the Philippine Olympic Committee give a better, more comprehensive explanation to answer for the allegations of corruption or under-developed athletes.
However, based on the results of these 2008 Beijing Olympics, while the Philippines may not have a medal – some of the Filipino athletes who’ve competed have made a remarkable feat by improving their personal best. And sometimes that’s all you can hope for – that each individual comes out of this experience a better person, with better energy, with more wisdom – and eventually that what they accomplish will be an inspiration for someone to be determined to do better. Of course, all in the name of the Philippines.
However, I’d still like to know if the POC paid for Manny Pacquiao’s ticket? Anyone, anyone?