Team Philippines will be lucky if it will make it to the top three in the 2021 Southeast Asian Games to be held in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Host Vietnam is expected to make another splash in the biennial event and will have all the home court advantage just like the Philippines when it hosted inn 2019.
“It is a tall order retaining that (over-all crown). For one, the host has all the advantage, two sports events is down to 40 from 56,” commissioner Ramon Fernandez of the Philippine Sports Commission during an interview with Baguio journalists at the Luisa’s Café here.
“We will be happy if we land in the top three. And if we can perform better, then good,” added Fernandez skeptically.
For one, the PSC is cash strapped due to the Covid-19 pandemic and most of the budget is being used for the training of Olympics bound and those who still seek slots for the Japan games.
He said that P100 million is allotted for the SEAG bound athletes, which will be used exclusively in sending the 626 athletes and close to 200 coaches to the Vietnam capital.
Moreover, trainings have been delayed due to the health protocols released by the Inter-Agency Task Force that does not allow staging of training specially for contact sports.
The athletes are also awaiting for the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines and once jabbed, they could start their training. “Hopefully by July,” said wushu taolu’s Daniel Parantac.
Fernandez was again in Baguio to negotiate with city government led by mayor Benjamin Magalong on how bubble training could be conducted in the highland city for the high altitude training of some of the national athletes.
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Fernandez specifically mentioned athletics, boxing and the martial arts that could be housed at the Baguio Teacher’s Camp and could also make use of the Baguio athletics bowl for their training.
Representatives from the Philippine Athletic Track and Field Association met with the city’s management committee including Magalong and the city sports development office on Tuesday to thresh out how they could conduct the training with minimum social contacts of athletes outside of the training venue and their lodging.
The PSC is also asking the city to help ferry the athletes from their place of stay to the training venue, which the city is amenable to.
“We really need the help of local government units in the trainings of our athletes and for them to adopt a sport,” Fernandez said.
Fernandez said that he is happy the Baguio and La Trinidad, Benguet are receptive in having some of the national athletes train here. La Trinidad, particularly the Benguet State University is the chosen venue for muay Thai, while he is also hoping that kickboxing and other martial arts will be allowed to train there.
Kickboxing is expected to have its training in the Benguet capital town with the Team Lakay gyms located there and Samahang Kickboxing ng Pilipinas director for northern Luzon Mark Sangiao holding most of the mixed martial arts team’s trainings there.
Most of the of the SBP athletes are members of the Team Lakay. Some of them even compete in the ONE Championship like Gina Iniong-Araos who won a gold in the event in the 2019 SEAG.