By Hannah Torregoza
Two senators on Tuesday have expressed confidence that the creation of a National Academy of Sports will reinforce the country’s sports development.
“Our dream of producing the Philippines’ first Olympic gold medalist is one step to becoming a reality now that Congress has approved the bill creating the National Academy of Sports (NAS),” Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara said.
The bicameral conference committee report on Senate Bill No. 1086 and House Bill No. 6312 was ratified by the Senate last Monday. Once ratified by both chambers of Congress, the bill would be transmitted to President Duterte for signing into law.
Prior to its ratification, the bill has been pending in the Senate for about 10 years.
Angara recalled how he first filed the bill during the 15th Congress when he was still a congressman, prompted by his passion for sports and an idea shared with him by Fr. Carmelo “Tito” Caluag.
“I’d like to mention Fr. Caluag because the germ of the idea came from him and he mentioned it to myself and to Senator Pia (Cayetano),” said Angara, in his manifestation during the hybrid plenary session last Monday.
“And the idea is really to have something like the Philippine High School for Arts in Makiling, which has produced some of our most outstanding artists in different fields of endeavor and it has morphed, I think, for the better, into the National Academy for Sports,” he stressed.
Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, chair of the Senate committee on sports, also lauded the ratification of the measure, which aims to educate students who have shown early potential to excel in sports for a sports-related career, even while undergoing quality secondary education.
“Sa National Academy of Sports, finally, pwede na pong sabay, while nag-aaral pwedeng mag-training ang ating mga atleta, (they can do it simultaneously; our athletes can study while they are training),” Go said.
“I firmly believe that with this measure, we will be able to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of sports development,” he further said.
Angara also said the future of Philippine sports “looks very bright” with the efforts being taken now to have a grassroots development program for sports.
“Now, rather than a single entity, the high school for sports, with hope we can have a system, which will permeate the grassroots development because we don’t have a really total grassroots immersion outside of the school system,” said Angara, who is also chairman of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP).
“With hope, one day we will realize our collective dream of winning that elusive gold medal in the Olympics,” he added.
Under the bill, the main campus of the NAS shall be established at the existing New Clark City Sports Complex, Capas, Tarlac, and shall be equipped with the necessary sports facilities, housing, and other amenities according to current international standards.
School buildings with a sufficient number of classrooms and facilities shall also be constructed at the complex.
Also under the bill, the NAS shall offer on full scholarship basis, a secondary education to natural-born Filipino citizens with considerable potential in sports.
The curriculum shall be designed in consideration of the education and special training needs of the student-athletes and provide them with a holistic quality education to support them in their chosen sport and at the same time, allow them to pursue their chosen profession or career.
It was Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chair of the Senate committee on basic education, arts, and culture, who sponsored and authored the measure and headed the bicameral conference committee. Co-authors and co-sponsors of the measure included Angara, Go, and Cayetano.