HOSTING the Southeast Asian Games anew is the ideal time for the country to regain back the overall title of the biennial meet.
This is the belief of Senator JV Ejercito who has complete trust on the abilities of the Filipino athletes to rise above the challenge and duplicate the same feat they achieved the last time the SEA Games was held here in 2005.
The 49-year-old solon said the hometown crowd should play a big factor in the country’s bid for the overall championship in the Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 meet.
“Of course as host there’s pressure that we have to perform,” said Ejercito, a member of the Senate committee on Games, Amusement, and Sports, in a briefing at the Limbaga 77 Café in Quezon City shortly before the Holy Week.
“It’s different when you’re playing in front of your countrymen. You’re totally inspired because you get cheered. So for me, I hope the best for our athletes,” he added.
The country bagged the SEA Games overall title for the first time 14 years ago when it won a total of 112 gold medals.
The 49-year-old Ejercito recalled that as San Juan mayor then, the city was host to the fencing competitions, in which the Filipino fencers won a total of five gold medals to emerge overall champions in the event.
For this year’s SEA Games, San Juan will play host to the 3x3 basketball tournament, a competition Filipino cagers are expected to dominate.
“It’s always an honor to host, especially the SEA Games,” said Ejercito, also a known sportsman, who once raced in the Toyota Vios Cup.
Staging the SEA Games also goes beyond just hosting the meet.
“That will be good for us, for our tourism, and for the country’s image if we’re able to host big events like this,” stressed Ejercito, also a motor biker who supports safety driving among motorcycle riders and recently asked President Duterte to review the law requiring bigger license plate.
The hosting will be the fourth time the SEA Games will be staged here after 1981, 1991, and 2005.
The meet is set to be held in various playing venues located in Tarlac, Subic, Tagaytay, and Metro Manila.