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July 22, 2010Posted by on
The Philippines does not have the facilities and organization for a post-college track & field career. Unless you’re talented enough to be a part of the National Training Pool, retirement from track is, more often than not, the road taken. Unlike in Europe, the U.S. and Australia, there are no independent, track & field clubs in the Philippines – aside from those nascent running groups and the Coach Emerson Obiena’s Philippine Pole Vault Club.
When I first floated my plans of track comeback to my college coach, he replied with kind yet honest reiteration of the aforesaid facts. 5 months later, I’ve experienced first hand the sheer difficulty of training alone, with no form of outside support aside from my family’s relatively comfortable financial standing.
While browsing through some running and sports blogs a while back, I stumbled upon a website of an Australian track & field training group, MattyB DEPT. I was impressed at the quality of its elite pool, which includes some mainstays of the Australian track squad. I had a glimpse of its training facilities through the videos posted in the site. And boy, did I drool with envy at the spacious weights room and the accessible synthetic track (outdoors and indoors)! The club even has sponsors in Oakley, Asics and Mizuno.
The local running clubs in the Philippines is a good start. Hopefully, corporate sponsors or moneyed individuals would infuse much-needed funds into the sport. Sports development starts from the grassroots, of course, so a solid, national program is needed. The country already has a rough model in the Palarong Pambansa (National Youth Games) with its multi-level competition culminating in the yearly national championships. The various school-based teams could provide the bridge between the high school level and the elite level, similar to role of the US NCAA.
But when a promising athlete graduates, much needed support will be scarce beyond the confines of the national team.
Nearing my 25th birthday, I know for a fact that I’m at the twilight of my competitive days, that someday I’ll step away from track – for the last time – to chase worthier, rewarding pursuits. There will come a time when I simply have to stop hanging on to those mildewed, sepia-toned dreams.
Until then, I’ll be doing my utmost best to get by, to make the most out of these bleak circumstances.