Richard Gomez: Ormoc City keeping its door open for training of disabled athletes

Richard Gomez

Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez said that the sports facilities in their area are available for national athletes with disabilities as they prepare for the ASEAN Para Games in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Gomez, a former national athlete, said that the Philippine fencing team will have their bubble training camp in the city prior to the SEA Games, similar to what it did for two months before the last Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) for Asian fencers.

The actor-sportsman turned politician said that officials of the Philippine Sports for the Differently Abled (Philspada) have reached out to him about holding training camps for the disabled athletes.

“In fact tumawag na rin samin ang Philispada para sa mga disabled athletes kung puwede mag-training dito (In fact the Philspada called us and asked of the disabled athletes can train here),” said Gomez as he appeared on The Chasedown last Saturday, May 22 on One PH over Cignal TV.

“Sabi ko walang problema sa amin yan (I told them there is no problem to us).”

Gomez said that sports always have a special place in his hearth despite his busy schedule as a public servant. As an athlete, he won a gold medal with fencing’s foil team during the 2005 Manila SEA Games.

He is now the president of the Philippine Fencing Association (PFA).

Gomez said that since he started his term as Ormoc City mayor, they have maintained an active program in sports with an annual allocation of P160 million, which allowed them to build sports facilities.

According to Gomez, he already asked the Philspada leadership led by Mike Barredo to hold an ocular inspection.

“I told them lang na inspeksiyunin niyo kung up to the standards na kailangan niyo then you’re free to come to Ormoc and train (I told them to inspect the facilities, and if these are up to the standards they need then you’re free to come to Ormoc and train),” he said.

“Meron kaming facilities na kailangan niyo, track and field oval meron – rubberized. Meron kaming Olympic size swimming pool and we have a superdome na kung ano and kailangan niyo – volleyball or basketball – pwede naming gawin yan (We have facilities that they need, a rubberized track and field oval. We have an Olympic size swimming pool and we have a superdome,whatever they want to do – volleyball or basketball – we can do that).”

The 11th ASEAN Para Games in Hanoi will take place Dec.17 to 23, two weeks after the 31st SEA Games.

A few months back, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) has asked different Local Government Units or LGUs, particularly outside Metro Manila to allow athletes preparing for the SEA Games to use their respective sports facilities as they prepare for the biennial meet.

This is because the PSC-controlled facilities like the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila and the PhiliSports Complex in Pasig City remain closed for training since both have been transformed as quarantine facilities for COVOD-19 patients.

“Malaking bagay yung mga LGU na tumutulong sa sports. Metro Manila is on lockdown, and maraming venues sarado kaya hindi makalaro, ang athletes wala talagang choice (It’s a big help for sport coming from the LGU. Metro Manila is on lockdown, and venues are closed. Our athletes can’t train, they don’t have much choice),” said Gomez.

“May mga LGUs and cities na hundi naman masyado mataas ang infection. Ang laking bagay ng LGUs ngayon para makatulong sa mga atleta natin preparing for the Olympics and the SEA Games (There are LGUs and cities that don’t have high number of infections. It’s a big help from the LGUs, as our athletes are now preparing for the Olympics and the SEA Games).”