DepEd hopes to surpass previous best in ASEAN School Games
Ngayong taon, we hope to land second or third. When we do that, it will be a big achievement in itself -- Department of Education assistant secretary Tonisito Umali
Team Philippines guns to bag at least a second place overall finish when Pinoy student-athletes compete in the 2017 Asean School Games from July 13 to 21 in Singapore.
A total of 159 Pinoy athletes, mostly top performers in the recent Palarong Pambansa in San Jose, Antique, will carry the nation’s pride and Department of Education assistant secretary Tonisito Umali is confident the country can surpass its best finish of fourth place three years ago.
Back in 2014, the Philippines wound up with 11 golds, 14 silvers, and 22 bronzes behind first placer Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia.
Umali said the creation of the K-12 program in the Philippines has given the country a deep pool of talent for the ASEAN School Games.
"Dahil basic education at hindi pa tayo K-12, medyo bata pa ang ating mga manlalaro na nanalo. Pero ngayon, may Grade 11 to 12, doon pa lang, nakakapantay na tayo sa edad ng maglalaro," said Umali during Tuesday's Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum at the Golden Phoenix Hotel.
Among the athletes that made it to the delegation and are expected to contend for gold in the ASEAN School Games are swimmers Sacho Ilustre and Jerald Jacinto, and tracksters Francis Obiena and Jie Anne Calis.
Aside from swimming and athletes, the Philippines will compete in seven other sports in badminton, sepak takraw, basketball, gymnastics, table tennis, tennis, and volleyball.
"Ngayong taon, we hope to land second or third. When we do that, it will be a big achievement in itself," said Umali.
More than winning gold medals, Umali said another aim of the Philippine delegation to the Asean School Games is to develop the values of sports to the athletes.
"The reason we are participating which is incidental ang dahilan ay 'yung disiplina na nais natin maikintal sa isipan ng mga manlalaro ay ang konsepto na tayo sa Asean ay dapat magsama sama at sa pagkakataong ito, sama sama tayong maglaro sa lingwahe ng palakasan na tayo ang magkakaunawaan," said Umali.
Umali said, for the very first time, the athletes will be housed in different parts of Metro Manila including the PhilSports complex for a 10-day training period before leaving for Singapore.
Coaches and technical officials will also undergo training as well during that timeframe.