THE two highest sports officials in the land on Thursday declared they won’t give in to “public clamor” as far as the selection of Philippine athletes to the 2013 Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar is concerned.
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco and Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Ritchie Garcia are one in saying that previous performances will remain as the yardstick on whether a team or an athlete can be included in the Philippine contingent to the December Games.
“Hindi na bale kontrabida basta tama ang ginagawa ko,” Cojuangco stressed during the weekly POC program on DZSR Sports Radio 918. “What I’m trying to do is do the right thing na wala silang masasabi na na-discriminate or paborito.”
Cojuangco was obviously referring to football, which has been clamoring to join the biennial meet even though the SEA Games Task Force has already thumbed down the possible inclusion of the men, women, and futsal teams since they didn’t pass the criteria of sure or potential gold winners.
The appeal being made by football officials have drawn public support as they are even willing to fund their own trip just to participate in the biennial meet.
The Task Force later on appeared to have softened its stance as football has eventually been included on the list of “entry by numbers” or the maximum number of participants a country will be sending.
The final list of athletes will be submitted in October.
For his part, Garcia admitted the government sports agency is “caught in the middle” as it still awaits for the final decision of the SEA Games Task Force and the POC.
Garcia, however, agrees with Cojuangco that popularity should not weigh in the selection of playrs for the national contingent.
“Assuming that we give in to a certain sport na alam naman natin na hindi qualified, just because it’s popular, do we have to give in to popular demand? If we give in, parang mob rule,” said Garcia.
Cojuangco reiterated the Philippine Football Federation must prove the Under-23 men’s football team and the women’s squad could win a gold in the SEA Games.
At the same time, he hinted that football officials should instead focus on developing the sport.
“Let us not build up ourselves na pagkatapos, matatalo tayo, madi-disappoint lang ang mga kababayan natin. We are still in the buildup stage, let’s look into that,” said Cojuangco.