Davao del Norte Bares Vision to be Next  Philippine Sports Capital

It is a bold vision thought deeply and intended keenly.

Davao del Norte, the country's banana capital, is out to earn another title-the Philippine Sports Capital. And that's no bananas.

After the two-day historic 1st Davao del Norte Sports Summit, government and sports leaders here agreed to work together to make the province as the country's next sporting capital. The document known as "Davao del Norte Call for Action in Sports Development" outlined the vision and goals of the province summarized as "Aim, Get Up and Rise!"

"It is not impossible," Philippine Sports Commission chairman William "Butch" Ramirez who witnessed the two-day proceedings said after signing the document as witness along with Governor Rodolfo del Rosario, Vice Governor Victorio Suaybaguio, Jr., provincial sports coordinator Anthony Del Rosario along with six mayors from the province's 8 towns and three cities.

Some 514 local sports leaders, barangay and youth officials, trainors and coaches authored the document crafted during the two-day summit-the first of its kind held here. Sports luminaries and hometown achievers led by Mt. Everest conqueror and extreme athlete Erwin "Pastor" Emata also attended the Summit.

Ramirez said the country is looking for an ideal sports center for national athletes to train under suitable conditions away from the hustles and bustles of urban metropolis. "Most athletes are from the province too. When they train in Manila they are subjected to an entirely new environment. Lots of adjustments. Lots of distractions. Manila is no longer the conducive place to train national athletes," Ramirez said.

A brainchild of former vice governor Anthony del Rosario, the Sports Summit convened sports stakeholders in the province in order to evaluate current sports scenarios and problems, as well as find opportunities in sports and chart a common direction.

"We got more than we wished for," said the younger del Rosario, who seemed at home with his new task as the province's sports czar after serving as the provincial legislature's presiding officer for three years.

"We wanted to draft a sports program which is reflective of the needs and the resources of the province. We could have made it ourselves but we taught it would be best if we consult our sports leaders who are more familiar with the sports landscape in the province," said Del Rosario.



Governor del Rosario for his part stressed the need for developing a winning attitude in the province-the same theme he used in his State of the Province Address three days before the Summit opened.

He presented during the opening day of the Summit what he called as "The Answer" to the sports agenda in the province-the scale model of the proposed P270-Million sports complex project.

"Barring any hitches, we will finish the construction, according to our Engineering Office.

Palawan takes its turn for Luzon in hosting the Palaro this year while Visayas takes its turn next. Then Mindanao will have its turn and Davao del Norte will waste no time bagging the right to host the national sports conclave for school-based elementary and secondary athletes.

The sports complex project right across the Provincial Capitol in Mankilam, Tagum City, features a 10,000-seat grandstand, rubberized tracks, baseball diamond, Olympic-sized pool, outdoor courts, and a football pitch. Collectively, Davao del Norte boasts of topnotch sports facilities considered as the best in the region. These includes the Panabo City Gym which recently hosted the PBA out-of-town game and the Tagum City Volleydrome, the country's only covered beach volleyball gym.

The province also boasts of a year-round favourable weather for sports and adequate accommodation, transportation and communications amenities.

"And then, there's the bananas," Governor del Rosario said. The province, through the consortium of banana corporations, supplied bananas, prime source of potassium, to national athletes in the Southeast Asian Games. (Neil Bravo)


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