THE Philippine Badminton Association (PBA) revealed on Thursday it is allocating P40 million a year as it aims to form a competitive national team that can qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics and in the process make a mark in the top-level tournaments of the Badminton World Federation.
PBA secretary-general Albee Benitez earlier this year announced a budget of P30 million but more funds are obviously needed to sustain the international stints not only of the elite squad but also the juniors team.
Benitez stressed the men’s and women’s elite team need to see action in BWF events at least once a month to earn ranking points.
A huge part of the budget will also go to new national coach Rexy Mainaky, who is reported to be receiving US$12,000 monthly on top of other benefits.
“Rio will be the ultimate goal, pero pag lumalaban ka na ng maganda sa Asia, para ka na ring nag-Olympics,” said the Congressman from the third district of Negros Occidental, noting that a huge number of top players in the Olympics are from Asia.
Benitez added it will be him and PBA chairman Manny Pangilinan who will at first bankroll the program until more sponsors come in.
“Habang gumagaling ang mga players, ang sponsorship dumadating,” said Benitez.
One encouraging development the PBA is proud of is Peter Gabriel Magnaye and Philip Joper Escueta’s rise from 236th to 130th in the world badminton men’s doubles rankings after just two months and two tournaments.
The ranking still pales in comparison with the superpowers in the sport and the pair have failed to impress in the main draw, but the big jump in the standings somehow shows what the new program can achieve in the coming years.
Former Olympic and world champion Mainaky instituted wholesale changes to the Philippine badminton program, from the training system to the player lineup to nutrition. And while it has been a tough two months since the Indonesian was hired as head coach, many consider the early results as promising.
“Masaya kami kahit na ibang klaseng hirap ngayon,” said Magnaye, explaining that training hours have been extended and the regimen is much much tougher that what they’ve done in the past.
Aside from training in the badminton hall, the players now run daily, food is now monitored and they lift weights twice a week, things that were not required in their previous program.
“Dati, kain kung gusto naming kumain, ngayon hindi na,” said Magnaye, with a smile.
“Pero gusto namin ito. Kasi si coach (Rexy) lagi niya kaming mino-motivate… sinasabi niya marami na siyang pinagdaanang ganito, marami nang players na dumaan sa ganito.
“At may resulta naman.”