Genuine Grassroots Program
Originally from 2016
Genuine Grassroots Program
In the column of Mr. Joaquin “Qunito” Henson at the Philippine Star on 21-February-2016, he had the opportunity to interview Mr. Michael Keon the head of Project Gintong Alay during the administration of Pres. Ferdinand E. Marcos. (See: http://www.philstar.com/sports/2016/02/21/1555276/tragedy-lydia-and-del )
Mr. Keon cited the facts about the Gintong Alay Program and what lessons should be learned from the model they had in the ’80s. And provides a genuine model on how the Philippine Athletics program should be run. In the points raised by Mr. Keon, we see a common groundwork on all of this and it involves consistent programs in training Athletes.
During my visit to the Czech Republic to watch the Ostrava Golden Spike on May 2015. The program is well-organized and the event itself became the largest and the longest-running athletics event in the said country. When I talked to Mr. Alfons Juck one of the officials of the Golden Spike. He cited the consistency of the event which produces better participation not only athletes from the Czech Republic. But entices world champions such as Usain Bolt and others.
He mentioned that given the meet is held every year. They try their best to involve more people hence more partners and sponsors come in. No wonder Ostrava Golden Spike is looking forward on its 55th year on 20-May-2016 with Usain Bolt confirming his attendance.
The importance of regular and consistent Athletics events is also seen during my visit to Sparkassen Gala in Regensburg, Germany. Local-based athletes meet regularly and their records are well-kept and considered by their National Federation.
Hence the selection process of National Athletes is based on sound statistical data posted on the federation’s website. Localization of meets gives athletes the chance to stay in their hometown and maintaining their studies and jobs near to their families, friends, and community.
The said examples provide a clear picture of how the Athletics program in the Philippines should be modeled. So far we can look at the following suggestions:
Strengthening and regularizing the grassroots, local, and club-based meets-
Importance of meets aside from the staple ones such as Palarong Pambansa, UAAP, NCAA, UniGames, PRISAA, etc. And providing alternative meets is a way for athletes to regularly assess their performance. By providing pocket Athletics meets. Locals don’t have to wait for the city and regional meets for them to check their performances.
If monthly and weekly meets are regularly done in different regions of the Philippines with such creativity. More athletes will be involved because it will encourage participation even to new athletes. While starting to build developmental ones leading to an elite level. The example paved by the Blue Knights Track League in Davao provides this kind of model. Wherein athletes meet regularly hence their skills are tested and have better experience meeting other athletes from different cities and provinces.
Instituting more regional and local centers for development in Athletics in the Philippines-
The prospect of forming sport academies like those in Tagum, Davao del Norte, Pagadian, Zamboanga del Sur, and Tacloban City, Leyte provides a framework for athletes to be trained in their respective hometowns and not being lured on the “poaching” mechanisms of bigger universities. The concern on athletes being just picked by big universities in Manila lies in the concept of getting more and more athletes from the provinces.
But when the athlete becomes injured, chances they will leave the athlete alone just like a soft toy. The importance of localized meets provides opportunities for athletes raised in sports academies to test their skills before being selected on the national training pool. The existence of regional centers in Athletics provides athletes to train at their preferred coaches and provides more time being with their families.
Synchronization of Athletics competition calendar-
The presence of meets in the Philippines such as Palarong Pambansa, Philippine National Games, National Open, UAAP, NCAA, PRISAA, and Unigames and its current schedules overlap and usually in conflict with each other. Germany, Czech Republic, and Even Singapore always clearly post on their respective federation websites the schedules of different meets. That’s why athletes can see to it they can participate in the national championships of their respective countries since there is no conflict on the respective leagues of their universities and clubs.
At the Blue Knights Track League, it involves students as technical officials. Hence it provides better participation to different stakeholders and not just being dependent on the usual system. Genuine Grassroots Program.
From the examples cited, true developmental programs in Athletics can be done at the genuine grassroots program level. Providing athletes with better experience aside from the usual meets. Staying in one’s hometown with all the capacity to train provides less stress to the athlete.
However, it is imperative that the stakeholders in athletics must not confine themselves in their comfort zones and wait for athletes to scout in the countryside. But instead, they should crumble their Ivory Towers and integrate themselves to the masses which is the bedrock of any athletics program.