This is my Fair Play column for SunStar Cebu’s May 1 edition.
A few weeks ago, when the nation’s capital was set to be placed under a stricter quarantine, the national teams training under various bubbles had to take a break. I read a post from one player lamenting how the Southeast Asian Games was just around the corner and they still had to start to train.
Unlike Vietnam, the Covid-19 situation in the Philippines is yet to be controlled more than 14 months after we got our first case. So training for national team members and things like a stint in the Southeast
Asian Games aren’t really that much of a priority. And they shouldn’t be, given how the lives of Filipinos have been disrupted.
So in a way, I’m tempering my expectations for the SEA Games, just an edition after we won the overall title in spectacular fashion when we hosted it.
Even without the pandemic, replicating the 2019 feat would have been difficult, given how a SEA Games host gets the chance to cherry- pick the sports it wants and that among the events to be discarded in Vietnam 2021 is arnis. Two years ago, arnis had 20 gold medals up for grabs, of which we won 14. In the months going to the 2019 SEA Games, Vietnam promised it would have arnis, but I guess, promises in the SEA Games Federation don’t have much weight.
Or it could be that the people behind arnis in Vietnam couldn’t sway the odds in their favor.
So yeah, with arnis gone, I think we’d be lucky to win a third of the 149 gold medals we won in 2019.
And that’s not only because our national teams’ training has been disrupted but because of the usual circumstances that surround a SEA Games hosting stint. That and the fact the Philippine Sports Commission has to cut the number of participants drastically, by almost half based on reports.
Still, I’m hopeful for a good SEA Games outing for the national teams. Something better than 2019, I hope.
Better in what way?
Well, in the past, a SEA Games stint had always managed to unite the country, despite whatever happened in the political arena. In 2019, that wasn’t the case and the divisiveness was still there.
I hope that won’t be the case this year. I think we need it. A two-week break from all the lunacy.
“A truce, Bruce?”