The training of Team Philippines to the 31st Southeast Asian Games may have hit a snag, but Chef De Mission Ramon Fernandez thinks there is still ample time for Filipino athletes to prepare and be ready for the biennial meet in Vietnam later this year.
Appearing before the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum online edition, Fernandez believes a three-month intensive training would be good enough for the Philippine contingent to perform creditably in the Nov. 21 to Dec. 2 event.
The country is eyeing to retain the SEA Games overall championship it won in 2019 when the multi-sports event was held here.
“I just hope three months would really be enough for them to perform at their peak or at their very best,” said the 67-year-old Fernandez in the weekly session presented by San Miguel Corporation, MILO, Amelie Hotel Manila, Braska Restaurant, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.
The scheduled bubble training for Filipino athletes was supposed to get going this Thursday at the Inspire Sports Academy in Laguna, but had to be cancelled due to the spike in COVID-19 cases.
Despite the NCR Plus being downgraded to a Moderate Enhance Community Quarantine starting Monday, group practices and scrimmages are still not allowed as per within the Joint Administrative Order crafted by the PSC, Games and Amusement Board and the Department of Health.
During his meeting with the Philippine Sports Commission-Philippine Olympic Committee Task Force, Fernandez asked the body about its timeline as far as preparations of the various National Sports Associations regarding the SEA Games is concerned.
The PSC commissioner sat down with POC Deputy Secretary General Karen Caballero and Deputy Chef De Missions Al Agra and Pearl Managuelod, along with PSC managers and staff led by Executive Secretary Guillermo Iroy, Merly Ibay, Queenie Evangelista, Anne Ruiz, and national team Training Director Marc Velasco.
“That’s the first question I asked the POC-PSC Task Force to prepare a program kung ano ang timeline nila, the minimum number of days, months to prepare your athletes to be ready by the or the end of November and December,” said Fernandez, a former PBA MVP and Hall of Famer, in the same session powered by Smart and Upstream Media as the official webcast partner.
“‘Yun ang unang tinanong ko sa kanila to be very competitive also with the thought of being able to, if not, retain our championship or come up with a very decent result and performance in Vietnam. It’s hard to say, but thinking from an athletes’ point of view, tingin ko itong mga athletes na ito kundisyon naman ito, at nag-eensayo naman ito on their own,” said Fernandez.
He disclosed the PSC earmarked a total of P200 million budget for the country’s SEA Games bid, half of them to be used for the Filipinos’ actual campaign and the other half, for the training of the athletes.
Holding a bubble training, however, like the one the government agency funded at the Inspire Sports Academy is too costly, according to Fernandez.
Boxing, karate, and taekwondo spent more than a month of training at Inspire as their athletes prepare for their respective qualifiers to the coming Tokyo Olympics.
“About 45 days, three sports lang pero P21 million ang binayad natin sa Inspire. So if you put all 39 sports in a bubble, how much will that cost?” said Fernandez.