President Rodrigo Duterte says he is proud to share the honor with Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz in a media briefing in Davao City on Thursday night, August 11, 2016. (Paulo C. Rizal/davaotoday.com)

DAVAO CITY — The government is eyeing to put up sports facilities in provinces to give attention to athletes from outside Metro Manila.

The plan was announced by President Rodrigo Duterte late night, Thursday here after Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz met with him in a courtesy call.

During the media briefing at the Presidential Guest House inside the Department of Public Works and Highways in Panacan, Duterte said there is a need to “equalize the opportunities of Filipino athletes.”

The President said that unlike the athletes from Manila, those from the provinces are hardly noticed.

“In Manila, if you excel in the universities and colleges you’ll get noticed immedia
tely. Itong mga nasa probinsya, we sometimes overlook them. Hindi natin nakikita talents natin diyan (Sometimes we overlook those from the provinces. We do not see our talents there ),” he said.

Philippine Sports Commission Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez said that they are eyeing to put up an institute of sports in the country to offer education on sports sciences, sports psychology and sports nutrition.

He said the country can have as many as 14 training centers all over the country in partnership with the local government units.

“While the President is very generous, he is also very frugal. What we do now with our limited income (is) there are many sports facilities in both government and private, we will have a (memorandum of agreement). We’ll buy all those materials, collaborate with local government and put up the training center,” said Ramirez.

He said the government is planning to have a grassroots sports program.

He said that money is not a problem, as long as there is a “master plan”.

“It’s not about money because if you have a master plan the private corporation will help us. I can see that within four to six years, we’ll be leaving a legacy in Philippine sports,” said Ramirez.

Ramirez also added that they will focus on a few supports due to the limited income.

“You go to sports where the Filipino will excel, weightlifting, boxing, archery, cycling, others, then there’s a big chance of winning in the Olympics,” said Ramirez.

Duterte mentioned that sports facilities will be put up in Vigan in  Ilocos Norte, Negros Oriental, and in  Zamboanga where Diaz hails from.

Meanwhile, during the press conference, Diaz said that the send-off program for Filipino athletes in Malacañang Palace on July 18 inspired them.

“Nakaka-inspire na nagka-send-off party kami sa Malacañang with President Digong kasi pinapakita niya na binibigyan niya kami ng suporta (We were inspired with the send-off party in Malacañang with Pres. Duterte because he showed that he is supporting us),” Diaz said.

She said that when she waved the Philippine flag in the Rio Olympics on August 7, she has shown the world that the Filipinos can win in the Olympics.

Aside from getting P5 million reward for winning a silver medal in weightlifting event, Diaz was also given additional P2 million by the President.

She said she intends to use it to purchase a lot near their place and build a weightlifting gym. (davaotoday.com)

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