Senator Pia Cayetano has been a staunch advocate for youth development through sports during her three-term stay as senator.
Through the years, Senator Cayetano has delved into various anomalies and questionable decision-making by certain National Sports Associations and local leagues. Being an athlete herself, she knows the trials and sacrifice an athlete experiences during their career, that is why the senator has authored and co-authored bills that have defended the rights of athletes; including the recent act that protected student-athletes from residency and commercialization, and the establishment of a unified Philippine Amateur Sports Training Center, to help in the development of the Filipino athlete.
During the PFF Women’s Invitational Cup 2015 group draw held at the PFF House of Football in Pasig City, Tiebreaker Times had a chance to talk with the honorable senator about the state of Philippine sports. The senator said that during her three terms in the upper house, she has been a huge proponent for sports development in the country. “Sports in general, I stand quite a bit; including the recent [UAAP’s] residency rule and the investigations that we had. Through my initiative we have been able to push for certain feats that, otherwise, we would not have been in the SEA Games. Unfortunately, it’s not seeded enough, as some NSA’s are really messed up,” she said.
She pointed out that she does not see eye-to-eye with the PSC and the POC. “Definitely, I have said that the PSC and POC don’t do their job well. You know me, it’s my last year as a senator, and I’m very careful when I take sides. I don’t take a side just to criticize. The PSC and the POC are way overdue for being responsible for the mismanagement of Philippine sports.”
She cited that the Philippine team’s performance in the 2015 Southeast Asian Games as a prime example of how these organizations have failed to enhance the capabilities of our local athletes. “The showing in the past SEA Games is more than proof that it is screwed up. I am not to judge just by one event or one international competition; I’m very fair. I mean, if we are in a period of rebuilding grassroot development, wala naman problema; it’s just a season of poor performance. Season after season after season, tumanda na ang mga youth wala namang nagbago. It just gets worse. So ano ‘yung mga figures, the data, the performance?,” she said with frustration.
For Cayetano, the Philippine Football Federation is one of the NSA’s that have done a commendable job in athlete development. “The PFF is a model for other NSA’s. I have been very vocal about my indifference with the PSC and other NSA’s; about how they are not doing a good job with the sports development in the country. The PFF really has a model that can be emulated by other NSA’s.” She further added that she finds no need to intervene with the PFF, as they have done their job well.
The Philippine Football Federation, under the guidance of President Nonong Araneta, has developed a strong football program that unified all the football associations in the country. Furthermore, they have consistently sent athletes abroad to gain international experience.
Senator Cayetano’s love for football can be attributed to her daughters’ playing the sport. “My heart is in football, and I have two daughters in it,” the senator said about her support for women’s football. In addition, she added, “having watched the recent Women’s World Cup, I have been a firm believer that we should focus on sports that we have a genetic inclination towards to, that is not height intensive [‘Although as I said before that my first love is volleyball’].
Moreover, as a female leader, she feels that she can do so much more in creating more opportunities for woman athletes in the country even after her political career is over. “I see my role, as a woman leader, to always look for venues and opportunities for women to advance. I feel that sports is an untapped opportunity. Yes, there are programs, but I feel with my involvement, I can do so much more to increase those opportunities,” the senator said about her plans on further growing the activity in women’s sports in the country. She further added that she has had the Pinay in Action program that has helped cultivate women leaders and athletes. “I, for a long time, had my Pinay in Action advocacy to help out. It stands for women in action particularly in sports, but really, just women having more opportunities to make a difference for themselves and for the country. I really feel that football can be a building goal for many many young kids.”
Just like her colleague Senator, Sonny Angara, Senator Pia Cayetano is hoping that the next president of the republic will consider sports as a priority. “I don’t think the President [Aquino] considers sports as a priority. I always look forward to the next term, in a sense that, I would love to have a president who really sees sports as necessary for nation-building.”