Sports for nation-building

Published August 11, 2019, 12:14 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat



Senator Sonny Angara
Senator Sonny Angara

Many Filipinos enjoy one sport or another. Though the type of game may change with each generation – from basketball and baseball to online games – one thing is for sure: Filipinos love sports. This is an excellent trait, as sports help teach the youth discipline, teamwork, and the importance of hard work.

And because our country recognizes the youth’s role in nation-building, we have the responsibility to provide opportunities to every Filipino child to hone their skills in sports—for their physical, mental, and overall well-being.

The Department of Education (DepEd), for example, has identified that one high school in every region should have a Special Program in Sports (SPS). The K to 12 system likewise  provides for a sports track in senior high school. There is also the Palarong Pambansa, and the Philippine National Games. These opportunities notwithstanding, the imperative nevertheless remains to provide a more extensive public school  program for sports development.

When it comes to sports as a part of nation building, we need to look no further than Cuba. There, physical education and sports were seen as necessary to overall human well-being, and to contribute to the development of the state. Sports became a core subject on all school levels, with coordination agreements with various agencies and institutions.  All of these had a governing body, the National Institute of Sport, Physical Education, and Recreation (INDER).

INDER developed all the sports and education programs which are still in place. These include the Escuelas de Iniciación Deportiva Escolar (EIDE), which scouts for talented young athletes during the summer Junior Olympics. Students with potential are sent to sports-centric schools. INDER is also in charge of the National Institute for Sports Medicine, the National Coaches program, and the National Physical Education Institute, to round out the other aspects of sports.

The results cannot be denied: Cuban athletes have won a total of 226 Summer Olympic Games medals for their country, making them the most successful country in the Olympics who does not participate in the Winter Games.

The Cuban sports program was so effective that retired athletes, coaches and sports trainers worked for other countries. The demand was such that Cuba had to stop the “brain drain” with material incentives.  Sports, in no uncertain terms, put Cuba on the map.

With the Philippines having similar cultural and historical roots, it is a good idea to take the best aspects of the Cuban sports model for our national sports programs.

Following the President’s statement of support for sports during the last SONA, the bill I filed for creating and establishing the Philippine High School for Sports is a very timely one. I first filed the measure during the 15th Congress while still a Congressman. It was Fr. Tito Caluag, former Director of Basic Education in Ateneo de Manila, who gave me the wonderful idea.

The PHSS will provide all Filipino students with the chance to hone their skills in sports and athletics, while at the same time receiving proper education. It will also serve as a training and selection system for our national sports programs. The PHSS would be under the DepEd, with the Philippine Sports Commission providing policies and program formulation for subjects involving sports.

This measure is in perfect step with the creation of the Philippine Sports Training Center (Republic Act 11214), and various  creating regional sports academies, such as those in Misamis Occidental, Davao del Norte, Siargao Island, and Surigao del Norte. I sponsored these, because I knew that a nationwide system of scouting and training is needed, from the grassroots to the professional level.

The PHSS will be an important part of the national system for sports development, that will help in nation-building. If all these developments come together, then the future of sports here in our country is assured.

Tennis legend Billie Jean King has famously said that “sports teaches you character, it teaches you to play by the rules, it teaches you to know what it feels like to win and lose – it teaches you about life.” Sports teaches us all to play fair, to do our best, and to strive to win. We need to imbue these values in our youth and getting them into sports is an effective way.

That is why I believe that sports have a much-needed role to play in our country. (30)

E-mail: [email protected]| Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @sonnyangara


Senator Sonny Angara has been in public service for 15 years—9 years as Representative of the Lone District of Aurora, and 6 as Senator. He has authored and sponsored more than 200 laws.  He recently won another term in the Senate.