Local athletes seek Palaro redemption
posted 24-Feb-2019  ·  
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Seeking to avoid the fate of a last-place finish like it did in the last two years, the 589-strong Catanduanes delegation to the 2019 Palarong Bicol next week left the island for the long journey to host Masbate province.

Limited to just 10 days of concentration training at the Catanduanes Athletic Complex due to limited funds, the delegation is composed of 384 athletes, 61 coaches, 17 assistant coaches, 12 chaperons, 40 officiating officials and 75 members of the different working committees.

In the elementary level, the 139 locals are participating in athletics, badminton, chess, football, gymnastics, sepak takraw, softball, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, volley ball, and dance sport.

In the secondary level, 220 athletes are entered in archery, arnis, athletics, badminton (girls), baseball, basketball, billiards, boxing, chess, futsal, gymnastics, sepak takraw, softball, swimming (boys), table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, volley ball, dance sport, and wrestling.

The delegation has no athletes participating in elementary basketball, secondary football, and secondary swimming (girls) due to the failure of those included in the list to undergo the municipal-based training.

According to the division office, the entire football team was removed from the list after it was discovered that nine of its members were included in the roster despite not having played in the provincial meet.

Education Program Supervisor Mary Jean Romero, who is also the division sports coordinator, disclosed that the Provincial School Board has set aside a total of P8,342,223.25 for the participation of the province in the regional sports meet from Feb. 24 to Mar. 2, 2019.

The inadequate funding led the Department of Education (DepEd) headed by Schools Division Superintendent Socorro dela Rosa to initiate municipal-based training spearheaded by the designated sports coordinators last December, with selected public schools adopting athletes from other towns for the duration of the training while at least one local government unit provided financial assistance.

It was also bared that, instead of having the food preparation bid out and done by caterers, the entire activity is being done “by administration”. Although some experienced cooks and dishwashers were hired, some teachers who are holders of TESDA national certificate are now handling food preparation with the help of several Technical-Vocational-Livelihood track students who are on an extended immersion program with the permission of their parents.

The students, who have been insured by DepEd, were already on the job during the Feb. 9-19, 2019 concentration training and will accompany the Catanduanes delegation to Masbate. They are being used on rotation every other day as part of their exposure to actual work in the kitchen.

It is claimed that before, the budget for the food preparation during training was pegged at P350 per head, increasing to P400 per head during the actual competition. Under the new “by administration” scheme, the costs has been brought down to P200 and P300, respectively.

This has effectively saved the delegation the considerable amount of P1.8 million, which was reallocated for the participation of athletes in several events.

EPS Romero expressed appreciation for the effort of capitol officials to provide, through direct procurement, adequate sports equipment to the athletes in view of past incidents wherein substandard gear were delivered by suppliers.

In some cases, she bared, several athletes have been asked to solicit funds to buy the equipment they need.

However, she lamented that while the sports development plan proposed by DepEd has been adopted by the provincial government through an ordinance that likewise created the Provincial Sports Council, the council itself has yet to convene.

Romero also urged municipal governments to provide separate funding for sports development in their annual budgets instead of relying on the Special Education Fund (SEF) which is mainly used for the repair and rehabilitation of school facilities.

“Sports is the best way to protect youth from illegal drugs,” she stressed.

She also pushed for more investments in sports facilities, including the installation of a rubberized track and improvement of Bicol’s only Olympic-size swimming pool at the Catanduanes Athletic Complex so that the province will be able to host the Palarong Pambansa and give the local economy a big boost.

The DepEd official expressed hopes that the community will understand and lend their support to the reforms being undertaken by the division and its partners in local sports development.

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