Real Change Has Come To Sports

The 30th SEA Games was not just an event that happened, but the beginning of change in the way sports is recognized and valued in this country. 

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Prior to the games, the Duterte administration recognized the plight of the Filipino athlete and took action not only in words but in deed. The once-paltry budget allocated to sports has increased to an average of P411 million per year, allocating funds for training, upgrade of equipment, and revamping of facilities.

“We can no longer afford to think mediocre and short-term. We have to invest in our future by building purposeful infrastructure that is world-class and much-deserved by Filipinos of today, and generations to come,” says Alan.

As a legislator and sports enthusiast himself, he delivered on one of the government’s promises of upgrading training venues when he was appointed chair of PHISGOC.

The existing facilities prior to our country’s hosting needed a major makeover, like the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex which will turn 100 years old in 2027. Prior to this administration, there was not much investment in sports infrastructure and talent management which is why our athletes were training under dire conditions, and housed in facilities that were in shambles.  Alan saw all these challenges and rallied the PHISGOC to “think big” in terms of infrastructure.

“We can no longer afford to think mediocre and short-term. We have to invest in our future by building purposeful infrastructure that is world-class, and much-deserved by Filipinos of today, and generations to come.” — Alan

This “Think Big” mentality saw the rise of the New Clark City Sports Complex, a world-class and state-of-the-art facility that includes a 20,000-seater Athletics Stadium graded as a Class 1A Athletics Facility; an Aquatics Center that has a 10-lane Olympic competition pool, an 8-lane training pool, a diving pool, and a seating capacity of 2,000; and the Athlete’s Village which could house 1,800 personnel.

“When we were conceptualizing this, a lot of people said that it could not be done… that we lack the time, resources, or the capability. But we have to go big and pursue a world-class vision or else we will lag behind our neighbors. Our athletes — and the Filipino people in general — deserve the best from all of us,” says Alan.

The closing ceremony, which was held at the Athletics Stadium, was a crowning glory not only for the Filipino athletes but also for Filipino architecture, ingenuity, and hardwork.

“It showed that with cooperation and unity, we can achieve great things for our country,” he adds.

The facilities at the New Clark City are envisioned to become part of sports tourism after the pandemic. Top international athletes and coaches can hold their training in the country. In fact, several sports teams abroad have expressed interest in training at the New Clark City Sports Complex in time for the Tokyo Olympics, but the coronavirus pandemic put many sports events and competitions on hold.

“These venues will be witness to generations of athletes and sporting events where Filipino skill and strength can shine and become an inspiration.  Beyond the games, we need to sustain the renaissance of Philippine sports to inspire more youth to engage in sports and active lifestyles,” says Alan.

“More than just the medals and trophies, sports can promote discipline and hard work among our people — and uplift our nation.”

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