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Senator-elect Alan Peter Cayetano thanked his fellow lawmakers who helped push for the passage of the National Academy of Sports Act, saying it is a “dream come true” for sports educators in the country.
“It’s the first of its kind, isa po natin itong bill, si Sen. Pia Cayetano has always been pushing for this, Sen. Bong Go and myself were authors of this also, kung saan ang elite athletes natin from elementary pa lang re-recruit-in na,” Cayetano said at the sidelines of the final walkthrough of the National Academy of Sports (NAS) in New Clark City, Tarlac early this week.
“Dream come true ito for many, many of our athletes, of our physical education teachers, mga nasa human kinetics, at y’un pong mga scientists na nagsasabi ng importansya po ng physical activity sa learning,” he added.
The former House Speaker, who principally sponsored the National Academy of Sports Act in the House of Representatives in 2020, was present at the final walkthrough along with President Rodrigo Duterte, Education Secretary Leonor Briones, and Senators Pia Cayetano, Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, and Sherwin Gatchalian.
Also present were Tarlac Governor Susan Yap, Capas, Tarlac Mayor Reynaldo Catacutan, and outgoing Taguig Mayor Lino Cayetano.
NAS Executive Director Josephine Joy Reyes, Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) officer-in-charge Aristotle Batuhan, BCDA Secretary Vicenzo “Vince” Dizon, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Commissioner Ramon Fernandez, Philippine Olympic Committee President Abraham Tolentino, and Philippine Olympians Association President Akiko Thompson as well as other officials were also present during the walkthrough.
Cayetano said the NAS will serve as the go-to state school for sports, just as the Philippine Science High School system is for science and technology education, the Philippine High School for the Arts in Los Baños, Laguna for creative studies, as well as the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in Baguio City for training military officers.
Aside from the main NAS campus in New Clark City, the National Academy of Sports Act calls for satellite campuses in each region of the Philippines, akin to the regional campuses of the Philippine Science High School system.
Cayetano also spoke about the potential for growth in sports tourism in the country if the government invests in sports infrastructure nationwide to aid in establishing a grassroots sports program .
“Many people don’t know that billions and billions of dollars po ang sports tourism — kasama na lahat po dito, hosting, training,” he said.
He explained that athletes in countries with harsh winter weather, such as Japan and those in Europe, could avail themselves of winter camps in sports facilities in the Philippines once these are built.
“Perfect po ang Clark and other parts of the country na kung saan pwede silang mag-summer camp o mag-winter camp,” he said.
“Binubulong ko lang siyempre sa mga taga-dito sa NAS na sana ma-maintain ng husto kasi iba talaga kapag world-class facilities, nakaka-inspire,” he added.
Grassroots sports program
Now that the country has a ready base for athletic talent with the completion of the first phase of the NAS, Cayetano appealed for the establishment of a nationwide grassroots sports program
“I really believe na dapat ibalik ‘to, y’ung grassroots sports program. Kailangan naka-integrate sa DepEd di ba, from kindergarten all the way to college, dahil napakaimportante ng sports,” he said.
“Remember, ang sports po ay nakatahi sa ating pang-araw-araw na buhay. Whether you talk about anti-drugs, you talk about teamwork, you talk about discipline, you talk about passion, you talk about nutrition, isama-sama niyo po lahat yan, makikita ninyo sa sports,” he added.