By Mario Casayuran
If Congress agrees, the country will soon have a national school intended solely for young athletes similar to Philippine Science High School and Philippine High School for the Arts.
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has filed a bill seeking to create a National Academy of Sports for High School (NASHS).
Senate Bill 397 provides that the NASHS “will serve as the premier training center to develop the athletic skills and talents of high school students.” Under the measure, the school should be built in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac, with an initial proposed funding of P150 million.
Go said that the academy is a gift to athletes and the youth.
As chairman of the Senate Committee on Sports, Go said he aims to bring the country back to its former glory in the world of sports.
“Kailangan nating maibalik ang pagiging sports powerhouse ng Pilipinas sa Asya (There is a need to reclaim the distinction of the Philippines as a sports powerhouse of Asia),” he pointed out.
For the NASHS to be accessible to athletes from various parts of the country, SB 397 “mandates the grant of scholarships, stipends, and such other allowances to deserving students.”
Scholarships may be in full or partial, and paying students may also be accepted, according to the rules that the board of trustees to be created may promulgate.
Go said that enrolled students would have the best training possible because the academy will be built in Phase 1A of the New Clark City Government Administrative Center (NGAC), which includes a 20,000-seat athletics stadium, a 2,000-seat aquatics center, and an Athletes’ Village, surrounded by a 1.4-kilometer river park development with bikeways and jogging paths.
They will be given “proper exposure to world-class sport facilities and possibly join the National Athletes Pool in various events,” SB 397 states.
The world-class sports complex in New Clark City is expected to be completed by August, 2019, in time for the 30th Southeast Asian Games, to be hosted by the Philippines from November 30 to December 11, 2019.
Based on the bill filed by Go, the proposed initial P150 million for the academy “shall be made available from the funds of the National Treasury” and the amount to be used for additional expenses “shall be provided in the annual General Appropriation Act (national budget).”
The bill also grants the board of trustees the power “to identify satellite branches of the NASHS” so that in the future, the academy may cater to more athletes in the various regions of the country.
Go, an avid basketball fan and grassroots sports development advocate serves as head of delegation to the national team in the Asian Qualifiers for the 2019 FIBA World Cup and is presently the chair of the Senate Sports Committee.
He said sports is an effective means to keep the youth away from illegal drugs, crimes, and corruption, against which President Duterte is waging a massive campaign.
Go said he believes that sports help shape the youth to have an honest, healthy and disciplined life.
Efforts have previously been exerted to implement a special sports curriculum in schools.
SB 397 cites that “in 2015, the Department of Education (DepEd) release guidelines on the requirements and procedures that every school needs to comply with in order to offer the Special Program in Sports (SPS).”
The program has not been sustained, however, due to “the lack of available proper facilities and equipment in our public schools and available manpower.” This prompted Senator Go to file his proposed measure.
According to the bill, the board of trustees of the NASHS will be composed of representatives from the DepEd, Philippine Sports Commission, both houses of Congress, and other accredited national sports associations. The board shall have the exclusive power to exercise the corporate powers of the academy.