WHEN the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) holds a two-day consultative meeting aimed at strengthening collegiate sports in the country on Oct. 17-18, it would do well to first take a close, hard look at the achievements of the Federation of School Sports Association of the Philippines (FESSAP) since 2011.
A privately-funded organization duly recognized by the Federation Internationale du Sport Universitaire (FISU), FESSAP is setting a good example of how collegiate sports should be managed by tapping the support of the private sector and bringing in dedicated and hard-working individuals known for their goal-oriented approach and management style.
Since 2011, FESSAP has been the.inspiration for so many school leagues all over the country, including those in the Visatas and Mindanao, for giving them the opportunity to represent the country in the world stage.
But it is also the envy of other so-called major sports groups which feel jealous of FESSAP’s herculean achievements in so little time and with hardly any goverment support.
One can only imagine what FESSAP might have achieved in the last four Summer Universiades, the ‘Olympics’ of university athletes, if government money was added to the financial assistance generously given by its Filipino-Chinese benefactors
But in case our beloved leaders attending the coming two-day consultative meeting at the Philsports Arena in Pasig do not know it yet, it is only proper that they get a honest-to-goodness update.
So you now ask, what have FESSAP and its quiet but hard-working leaders accomplished in bringing honors to the country since 2011?
Let me count the ways:
-- In 2011 Shenzhen Universiade, taekwondo star Samuel Thomas Morrison of Far Eastern University made history by bagging the country’s first-ever medal -- a silver -- in men’s taekwondo.
It was the first time that FESSAP sent a Filipino delegation to the Universiade and immediately brought home a medal.
-- Two years later, in 2013 Kazan Universiade, GM Wesley So shocked the chess world by winning the gold medal following an Armageddon-style playoff match.
In chess parlance, an Armageddon match is considered as the mother of all playoff matches where one player had to play five minutes and the other only four to determine the champion.
So, then still a promising student at Webster University under five-time women’s champion Susan Polgar, defeated GM Zaven Andriasian of Armenia to win the coveted gold.
A high-ranking Russian sports official, who came all the way from Moscow to watch the final round up to the awarding ceremony, was visibly impressed as the Philippine flag was raised higher than the Armenian and Chinese flags.
The first words muttered by So after receiving the Universiade gold and posing for photos with his new-found fans from the Russian Republic of Tatarstan were “Thank you FESSAP.”
I should know. I personally heard the words. I was there.
-- In 2015 Gwangju Universiade, a United States-based golfer named Lloyd Jefferson Go did the country proud with a strong seventh-place finish.
-- And only last August, the FESSAP-supported Filipino delegation celebrated the achievement of wushu star Jomar Balangui of University of Baguio, who brought home another silver medal that glitters like gold.
No less than boxing legend Sen. Manny Pacquiao lauded Balangui and FESSAP for this newest achievement in international sports.
But wait, there’s more.
-- Last year, FESSAP and the Tagaytay City government under Mayor Agnes Tolentino successfully hosted the 2016 World University Cycling Championship.
-- In 2018, FESSAP will again host another FISU-sanctioned event, the World University Golf Championships at the Pradera Golf and Country in Lubao, Pampanga.
WUGC godfather Bong Pineda and Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda are helping FESSAP in organizing the six-day event, which hopefully, will be another resounding success mainly due to FESSAP’s organizational skills.
-- Also, FESSAP is helping organize the Asia-Pacific University Games scheduled Dec. 4-7 in Cebu City with no less than FESSAP vice president Baldomero Estenzo as the pointman.
So you see, President Duterte’s marching order to get the youth involved in sports and PSC’s own “Make sports accessible to all, involve our youth in sports” battlecry can find a perfect match to FESSAP’s tried and tested program.
Maybe the two -- PSC and FESSAP -- can find a mutual ground to work together to promote collegiate sports at the FISU-level.
PSC, headed by chairman Butch Ramirez and commissioners Mon Fernandez, Charles Maxey, Celia Kiram and Arnold Agustin -- has the authority from President Duterte himself to release government money and finance the training of top student-athletes.
FESSAP, headed by David Ong, Alvin Tai Lian, Dr. Robert Calo and Estenzo, has the proven expertise and track record in bringing honors to the country.
If you ask me, it is a win-win solution to Philippine sports.
After all, PSC and FESSAP need each other.
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Congratulations to St. Clare College-Caloocan and Dr. Ernesto Jay Adalem for winning their third NAASCU men’s basketball championship over De Ocampo Memorial College.
A former top official of the Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas (SBP), Dr. Adalem and his family is one of the ardent supporters of sports not only in their school but in the whole community as well.
NOTES -- Happy birthday to sportswriter Danny Simon, who turned another year older last Oct. 10.
Birthday wishes also to Emlio Aguinaldo College coach Bong Melocoton (Oct.12), Kelly Grace Oliveros (Oct. 12), Mark Fampulme (Oct. 12), Juju Bautista (Oct. 12) , Von Tambeling (Oct. 11), Dodot Jaworski (Oct. 14), BJ Diswe (Oct. 14), Homer Cunanan (Oct. 14), Noel Asinas (Oct.15) and Tet Andolong (Oct.15).