RATHER than banning athletes aged 17 and below in combat sports, Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez said the country’s sports leaders should instead focus on the strict enforcement of health and safety guidelines in all competitions, particularly in age group play.
“In basketball, if a child falls you could suffer a head injury, in baseball you could get hit by a ball in the head. Gymnastics, you could also get hurt playing,” Ramirez noted in a wide-ranging virtual press conference last Friday.
“This is why my position as a member of the Philippine Sports Commission is that our interest is not in winning but on the safety of our children athletes from injuries,” said the PSC chief, who conveyed his stand during the hearing on House Bill 1526 last Wednesday.
The Act Banning Minors from Full-Contact Competitive Sports is authored by Ako party-list Representatives Alfredo Garbin Jr. and Elizaldy Co. The bill has been opposed by 13 National Sports Associations, claiming it could be detrimental to their grassroots programs.
“This is why I recommended to the authors of the bill that they amend it to focus on the protocols of play, whether it be combat sports or team sports,” Ramirez said. “What I am after is the safety conditions of the equipment and venue and the technical knowledge of those running the event.
“When we were the athletic director of a school in the south we all had that,” said Ramirez, who was the former athletic director of Ateneo de Davao.
He also shared his thoughts on the qualifications of sports coaches and safety guidelines of sports events.
He pointed out that being a former national athlete “is not an assurance that you will be a good coach. That is why I believe that a coach should have a bachelor’s degree in physical education so he will have a better understanding of human physiology, the muscle development of a child athlete.”
Ramirez stressed that technical knowledge is essential as a coach because “if you have a child who should only have 10 hours of training weekly and you have him doing 20 hours this will lead to burnout and he might get injured.
“Kung wala kang alam sa human physiology and technical knowledge, you might destroy the child. So the qualifications of coaches are important.”