NATIONAL sports associations should keep a positive outlook despite several delays in training for their coming Olympic qualifying tournaments due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Take it from the Philippine Table Tennis Federation, Inc. (PTTFI), headed by Ting Ledesma.
“There’s nothing we can do right now but stay positive during this situation when even sports had to take a backseat so we can follow health and safety protocols,” said Ledesma during the 11th “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom last Thursday.
But Ledesma claimed the PTTFI is not staying idle during the lockdown.
“There are other ways for our national players to stay busy and maintain a good mental and physical condition even while staying at home during the quarantine,” said Ledesma during the weekly public service program sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
“In the PTTFI, we regularly conduct zoom training for our national players under strict supervision of our coaches and monitored by the PSC,” Ledesma told editors and reporters of various national tabloids.
“Recently, we also have few trainings in private venues where social distancing and other health and safety protocols are enforced. Hiwa-hiwalay pa sa ngayon ang mga atleta natin. Meron nasa Quezon, meron nasa Bacolod. Yun iba naman naka-duty sa Philippine Navy at Philippine Army.”
But Ting, a former national player himself, hopes to bring them together in an exclusive resort in General Tinio, Nueva Ecija.
“Parang yun bubble sa NBA. I think yun din gagawin sa PBA. It’s expensive pero kailangan ng ating mga national players. Sa table tennis, medyo mahirap kung hindi actual training. Iba yun speed ng bola,” explained Ledesma, who is now also knocking on the doors of several private groups for financial assistance.
“Matindi na ang pressure, lalo na we have to prepare hard for the Olympic qualifying tournaments next year. We have to work double time. We have to find new sponsors. Yun ibang bansa, puspusan na ang training. Sa atin, medyo limitado pa.”
Ledesma also admitted the coronavirus pandemic affected a lot of table tennis groups and clubs.
“Nag-iikot nga ako at nakita ko madami talaga ang apektado. Nauubos na mga table tennis clubs natin dahil yun iba nasa loob ng mga malls. They are still not allowed to open because of different quarantine requirements.”
But despite the limitations brought about by the coronavirus outbreak, Ledesma is confident the PTTFI can produce more young and talented players who can someday equal, if not surpass, the achievements of the late Rio Olympian Ian Larriba.
“We know iba yun achievements ni Ian. But I know madami tayong magagaling na table tennis players,” said Ledesma.
He said 2018 Buenos Aires World Youth Olympics Games campaigner Jann Mari Nayre of Baybay, Bohol, is only one of them.