Mon Fernandez: an athlete fighting for athletes

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(Photo from Spin.ph/Jerome Ascano)

I spoke to the man often called “The greatest Filipino ballplayer” last Friday. In a freewheeling exchange that touched on topics like the Phil. Sports Institute and Batang Pinoy and how he’s grown taller and now stands 6-foot-7, Ramon Fernandez is one of us. He’s Bisaya. Born in Leyte and now residing in Cebu, his goal is to extend the reach of sports beyond Metro Manila.

“I’ll be visiting more cities around the Visayas in February,” said the 63-year-old PSC Commissioner. “Under my responsibility are the Phil. National Games (PNG), the University Games, collegiate games like the UAAP and CESAFI, and more.”

He wants to institutionalize the Batang Pinoy. “Last year, it included the 17-and-under category but we’re bringing it back to purely 15 and below,” Fernandez said. “PNG is for 18 and above. For those between 15 to 18, we’ll have a tertiary league.”

Mon and I talked about the PSC and POC. They had a gathering early this month in Tagaytay where the functions of each sports body was clarified.

“We now have a clear delineation of roles,” he said. “We made it clear that the National Sports Associaitons (NSAs) are the ones responsible for preparing the athletes for international competition: the SEA Games, Asian Games, Olympics. The role of the POC is to accredit these athletes chosen by the NSAs. Finally, for us at the PSC, we are tasked to supply the funding for the training of the athletes. We have no say with regards to the choosing of the players and coaches. But we help in sending them abroad and with their incentives.”

Part of POC’s role, Fernandez added, is to help in athlete development and in the training of coaches. “Visit the IOC website and check the Olympic Solidarity Committee,” he said, noting the 2015 report for each NOC and how other nations have availed of these progams.

“We never knew that. What’s sad is the POC availed of only one program called ‘Sports For All’ that had a small budget. There are various other programs that the POC could have availed of with millions of dollars as budget,” he said.

“We just had a meeting with the Leyte Sports Academy officers and they told us of their visit to Peping Cojuangco after Yolanda. And instead of getting assistance, they were scolded by Peping. I got mad. You guys better tell me all of this! I’m setting up a media bureau so that complaints of athletes can be heard.”

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