[PHOTO AT LEFT - Miguel Molina, the SEAG 200m and 400m IM gold medalist, with Nestlé AVP and Milo sports events executive Pat Gocong.]

MANILA, DECEMBER 23, 2009 (STAR) Milo, a long-time supporter of RP sports, again rallied behind Team Philippines, which ended its 10-day campaign in the SEA Games in Laos with 124 medals, including 38 golds.

“Milo has always been a big part of this special event. It is a source of pride and privilege to support our local athletes all the way to their victory,” said Nestlé AVP and Milo sports events executive Pat Goc-ong.

“Milo knows the importance of raising awareness about the values and benefits of sports to Filipinos, especially among the youth, which is why we remain one of the strongest supporters of the SEA Games,” said Nestlé AVP and Milo consumer marketing manager Stephanie Toh-Sy.

Through the years, Milo has played a big role in helping build the country’s champions. Its numerous and highly popular sports events like the Milo-sponsored Summer Sports Clinics, BEST Center, Milo Little Olympics and the National Milo Marathon are noted for giving Milo the honor to consistently discover and nurture the country’s future sports champions.

In fact, some of the country’s past and current sports heroes have, at some point, been associated with Milo. They include swimming stalwart Miguel Molina, billiards ace Rubilen Amit, taekwondo champs Tshomlee Go and Mary Antoinette Rivero and former Milo marathon King Eduardo Buenavista and Milo marathon Queen Jho-An Banayag.

Buenavista and Banayag swept the marathon events in Laos while Molina dominated the 200m and 400m individual medley categories.

Amit, on the other hand, swept the women’s billiards events – the 8-ball and 9-ball, while Go ruled the men’s feather weight over 63-kg and Rivero the women’s over 62-kg gold.

Clearly, the sponsorship of Filipino athletes in the 25th SEA Games has proven to be rewarding not just for Philippine sports but also for the country’s sports development. In the coming years, Milo will surely continue to lead the way in helping Filipinos achieve sports glory.

Déja vu in Vientiane SPORTS FOR ALL By Philip Ella Juico (The Philippine Star) Updated December 23, 2009 12:00 AM

Immediately after the 25th Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games), where the Philippines finished fifth overall again, the Philippine Sports Commission announced it was time to move and look forward to the 2010 Asian Games. While this pronouncement makes sense, a lot more needs to be done concretely at the ground level especially in the light of political events that will surely create a lot of transition gaps.

What could avert or minimize the negative effects of these gaps would have been a Master Plan for Sports that could ensure consistency and continuity regardless of personalities and political affiliation.

In a column (“Same Old Story - No Sports Master Plan”) I wrote on Dec. 12, 2006, or three years ago, I asked, “How is it possible for the Philippines to dominate the SEA Games in Manila (in Dec. 2005 where the Philippines finished first in the over-all championship with 113 gold, 84 silver and 94 bronze medals) last year and yet languish close to the cellar in the (then) ongoing (2006) 15th Asian Games in Doha, Qatar?

“What is the explanation for the sudden drop in the Philippine performance? We proposed an answer: “One of the major reasons for such an erratic performance is the absence of an integrated overall plan for Philippine sports that taps all stakeholders and spells out their respective roles in attaining well-defined objectives and measurable goals.”

Unknown of course to us then was, we would go even lower than our then worst ever fifth place finish in Brunei, to sixth spot in Thailand in 2007 or a year after the Doha Asiad.

I had turned over the first Master Plan for Philippine Sports to the incoming PSC leadership in July 1998 and informed succeeding chairmen about it. Unfortunately, not one of them was able to appreciate the wisdom and need for such a plan.

Let me reiterate that nothing less than a well thought out road map for Philippine sports is needed if the sports community wishes to be taken seriously by sports sponsors and benefactors, whether government or private sector, and by our adversaries in the international arena.

A road map done with rigor becomes even more necessary as the country moves up from one level of competition to the next. There is whale of a difference between the SEA Games and the Asian Games and certainly between the Asian Games and the Olympics.

Everyone needs a road map if we want to adopt a long-term approach to sports development. As I stated on several occasions, to force the National Sports Associations and the PSC to update the Master Plan I passed on to the agency, funds should be released by the Department of Budget and Management only after the PSC has endorsed the Master Plan to the Cabinet for adoption. This way we avoid unwise band-aid solutions.

There is a need among our sports leaders to realize that, as stated in the book, “Not Just a Game”, “Sport is primarily a social activity. Sport is neither an idle flexing of the muscles without cause or consequence nor merely a series of motor gestures devoid of social significance. Sport is also an economic phenomenon, a real industry that presents, in the form of entertainment events, “commodified” physical performance”.

Our ASEAN neighbors, particularly Thailand, Vietnam (which could not even afford to send a competitive team in the 1980’s), Indonesia and Malaysia are also undertaking serious assessment of their respective performances in the last SEA Games. The Indonesians, who were right on target, landing third over-all, have to do better simply because the cities of Bandung and Semarang will host the 2011 Games.

Thailand captured first over-all with 86 gold medals, but was still dissatisfied with its performance, it falling short of its target of 90. In all of ASEAN, Thailand has probably the most organized and orderly sports structure with clearly defined targets and accountabilities. The Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) is responsible for, among others, organizational support and is under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports.

Save for transient political instability and unrest in the south, Thailand (now regarded as newly industrialized country), with its 64 million people, is expected to become even more economically resilient and dominate ASEAN sports soon enough. The Thais have already won several Olympic gold medals and are well on their way to following the footsteps path of China, Japan and South Korea.

We’ll have more on Philippine sports development and what Malaysia (which beat us to fourth place overall) plans to do in the short term next week.

A Blessed Christmas to all!

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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