Peping Cojuangco in talks with SM group for construction of training facility for national athletes
POC president Peping Cojuangco has long batted for a new training center to replace the age-old Rizal Memorial Sports Complex. Dante Peralta

PHILIPPINE Olympic Committee president Jose 'Peping' Cojuangco is turning to the private sector to make his long-awaited dream of building a state-of-the-art training facility for national athletes a reality.

Cojuangco bared in the POC’s radio program on Sports Radio on Thursday that the Olympic body is in exploratory talks with SM about a possible tie-up for the construction of a long-overdue training center for national athletes.

Cojuangco hopes to follow a model similar to Japan which built a training center with the support of Ajinomoto.

“Tignan natin kung puwede nating maparisan ‘yun,” said Cojuangco.

Since he took over the presidency of the POC in 2004, Cojuangco has been batting for a training center to be used by Filipino national athletes to replace the ageing Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.

A proposed training center was to be built inside Clark field in Pampanga, with local sports officials already doing an ocular inspection last year. But apparently, talks have stalled, according to Cojuangco.

Cojuangco is hopeful negotiations with the SM group won't suffer the same fate, adding that he is impressed with how SM has turned around the sports program of National University following its purchase of the school.

“Nagkausap kami ni Henry Sy Jr. at ‘yung isa sa mga kasama nila sa NU. I admire what they are doing. Naging contender sila sa UAAP, and they are recruiting athletes from the Batang Pinoy and PNG,” said Cojuangco.

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