COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
Swimming is better seen at the wide screen while football, from the bleachers and lawn tennis at the ground level. That’s my first impression at watching the games this Friday afternoon, May 1, 2009, and already on the fifth day of the Palarong Pambansa held at the LeyteSports DevelopmentCenter here in the city of Tacloban.
My recollection of the Palarong Pambansa that was first held in Leyte in 1983 was Lydia de Vega running along the oval track. The crowd then was not as big as it is now or the securities, tight, that I was able to stand near the oval track without a gate pass. Then there was the javelin throw and pole vault games performed by athletes in the collegiate level. But the most enjoyable and unforgettable sight was the football and baseball games played by younger boys who moved so quick and fast.
Leyte SportsDevelopmentCenter in now an amazing venue for sports events with the newly improved facilities especially that rubberized track. New courts for volleyball and basketball have been built and hard courts for lawn tennis. Other venues for the games have also been improved. Our shell courts at the Leyte Lawn Tennis Club where I’ve been playing for many years now even had a face lift, though that shell court really needs an overhaul and changed with a better drainage system.
With the installation of these new sports facilities at the LeyteSports DevelopmentCenter, this should be an opportunity for our young athletes of school age to train, and perhaps fare better in the national games. The grounds must be guarded to prevent being vandalized and properties destroyed. And maybe a small fee shall be charged in the use of the facilities to fund their maintenance.
Maintaining the swimming pool is quite expensive with the use of water and chlorine, daily cleaning, and the employment of a life guard—yes, a life guard is a must—but charging a fee of P20 per head at the least or P50 at the most for students is not a disincentive, as compared to the privately owned swimming pools in the city charging higher rates. But for those who train daily for the regional and national competitions should be given a special permit for the free use of the pool.
Sports is very important as it develops a person’s character. Aside from building a healthier body, it brings discipline, focus, and determination in the individual, attitudes that are very helpful in the other fields of human endeavor. One learns to be patient and persevere, and not easily get irked. And sports is a great stress reliever, a better outlet for emotional energies, and a leveler for people in the different social classes of any society.
For those individuals aiming to compete in regional and national games, training must start early if one expects to excel. Probably at age nine or ten is a right age to start conditioning the mind, body, and emotion for a particular sport. Nadia Comaneci, the first gymnast in Olympic history to score a perfect 10.0 at age fourteen, was already “hooked in gymnastics” by the age of six. She then trained 2-3 hours daily and competed in the Romanian National Junior Championship when she was seven. When Nadia reached twelve, she began training eight hours a day, six days a week, in their state-run training school.
Except maybe for basketball, one cannot really make a career in sports in this country, not at the present state of affairs, and Manny Pacquiao is an exception. Those who engage in competitive sports like golf, tennis, car racing, or equestrienne that we read in the papers come from the higher income class and finance their respective sports training. Nevertheless, sports should be encouraged in schools and communities and must gain greater government support. It is in the development of sports that we can attain a more balanced and wholesome society.