Why NSA reforms are impossible

One of the side stories in the saga between Olympian EJ Obiena and the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association is the call for reforms in the national sports associations (NSAs).

Though the Philippine Sports Commission is set to implement its own set of reforms to ensure funds are properly liquidated by the NSAs before they can receive another tranche of financial assistance, I hope the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), being the mother organization of all NSAs, will also do its part and encourage its members to look at reforms.

It doesn’t need to look far for ideas.

INCONSISTENT. POC president Bambol Tolentino portrayed himself as a champion for the FIlipino athlete in the EJ Obiena vs. Patafa fight. However, he never said a word in support of the Philippine national tennis team, which was suspended for two years from international play because of Philta’s stubbornness in accepting regional members.

For me, the biggest hindrance in Philippine sports has always been the structure of the NSAs of how it is always Manila-centric, which is unfortunate considering that most of the national team members are not from Manila. This could be corrected if the NSAs have regional representation or better yet, members from the regions.

The Philippine Taekwondo Association and Philippine Football Federation have such and I think it is not a surprise why both are popular sports among the youth. This problem was raised by the International Tennis Federation, which in turn encouraged the Philippine Tennis Association to open its membership to regional clubs.

Like I said, the POC doesn’t have to look far for ideas. The only problem is if it’s open to ideas since it basically sided with Philta in fighting off the ITF’s suggestion to open its membership.

Though I may be disappointed with it sometimes, for me the best NSA setup is the PFF, especially since it consolidated its membership base to regional FAs—from the Cebu Football Association to the Central Visayas Football Association. Each Regional FA is the sole figure for the sport in its jurisdiction and is in charge of grassroots among other things.

Just imagine if our track and field association, or even tennis, has such a similar setup—how many more kids or promising Olympians would they discover?

Unfortunately, that’s not the case and I don’t think that will change soon. The NSAs are, for the lack of a better term, highly resistant to change as proven by Philta, who would rather have the country suspended from international play than accept regional members.

Why? Your guess is as good as mine.

It is unfortunate that the public outcry over Philta’s decision wasn’t as strong as the outcry in the EJ Obiena case. No politician offered his or her unsolicited opinion and the POC certainly didn’t declare the Philta president persona non grata.

That explains a lot, doesn’t it?

Mike T. Limpag
Mike T. Limpag

Mike T. Limpag has covered the Cebu sports scene for over 20 years, starting as an 18-year-old cub reporter for the Freeman in 1997 before moving to SunStar Cebu in 2001.

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