Chances are, the casual Filipino sports fans don't know what netball, pencak silat and petanque are.
If the country wants to win more medals in the Southeast Asian Games this year, they have to get behind those relatively obscure games.
Tom Carrasco, head of the SEA Games task force, called on all national sports associations (NSA) to field competitive teams in the Kuala Lumpur, Olympic-style athletic meet. The lesser-known sports federations aren't exempt.
“We’re encouraging every NSA to be strong. Kasi kung makikita nyo ang performance ng Thailand at Vietnam, nakakalat ang NSAs nila e, halos lahat ng NSAs nila nananalo. We can do that by strengthening all the NSAs,” Carrasco said in the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association forum on Tuesday.
“If we can get medals in Category 3, parang bonus na ito.”
Netball, pencak silat and petanque all fall under that category.
Netball is a close relative of basketball, except the rims don't feature backboards. Petanque is a loose variation of the children's marble game "jolens," except the balls are much bigger, while pencak sialt is an Indonesian martial arts.
Meanwhile, Cynthia Carreon, the Philippine Olympic Committee chef de mission to the SEA Games, hopes that the country could send at least 400 athletes to Kuala Lumpur in August.
The Games task force has already begun screening athletes, and Carrion is confident that NSAs can field enough athletes that will meet the criteria set for the multisport event.
“I want to bring as many as we can that are prepared. I think there are 400 of us prepared,” Carrion said. “I would think 400 would be good.”
Carrasco said the criteria set for athletes who want to enter the SEA Games include: previous SEA Games performances, particularly in 2015; competitiveness, activity and deserving athletes.
Among the 38 sports that will be featured in the Games in Malaysia include: athletics, aquatics, archery, badminton, basketball, billiards and snooker, boxing, cricket, cycling, equestrian, fencing, football, golf, gymnastic, hockey, ice hockey, ice skating, judo, karate, rugby football, sailing, sepak takraw, shooting, squash, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, tenpin bowling, triathlon, volleyball, weightlifting, lawn balls, water skiing and wushu.
Carrasco added that the task force is holding a series of consultations with various NSAs to discuss their respective lineups.
The task force chief said his group has been assured that the Philippine Sports Commission will-fast track SEA Games funds.
Regarding their respective NSAs, he said most of them have been training for the SEA Games since last year.
“Like in triathlon, we’ve been preparing for this one year ago, tuloy tuloy ang training namin,” said Carrasco.
Secretary-general Raymund Reyes said the Philippine Karatedo Federation has already prepared a list of athletes with the potential to play in the SEA Games.
But this could change if more deserving athletes come in their way.
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