FORMER Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino on Wednesday warned the government that the Filipino youth would soon lose opportunities to excel in sports due to the shrinking size of open spaces available to them.
Tolentino said he has long been in support of plans to decongest Metro Manila and spread development to the provinces and cities with potential to become new business hubs.
This, he said, would level opportunities long made available to Metro Manila residents, while raising the income levels of people living in the provinces and small cities outside of the metropolis.
“I am also proposing the establishment of provincial and regional sports academies that will offer holistic sports development among the youth,” Tolentino said.
This approach, according to Tolentino, would also benefit the youth, who have long been “losing their basketball courts and track fields to development, or even overdevelopment.”
“Metro Manila is too congested,” Tolentino said. “But aside from the traffic and overcongestion, we are also concerned about the welfare of our youth.”
According to Tolentino, his short stint in the MMDA gave the government the realization that the youth are fast losing their opportunities to get exposed, train and excel in various fields of sports due to the unavailability of open spaces and venues to them.
“’Yung mga public elementary schools at high schools po natin, natayuan na ng buildings ang mga open spaces where our students used to play basketball, baseball and softball and even race,” Tolentino said. “Not all barangays also have decent basketball courts.”
At most times and during emergency situations, we also convert these open spaces for temporary evacuation centers.
“Kailangan po talagang paluwagin ang mga ito. Hindi lang po kalsada, pati na rin mga lugar kung saan pwede natin ibalik ang kabataan para maging aktibo sa sports,” Tolentino added.
Tolentino also lamented news reports about plans to sell the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, site of many historic sporting and cultural events in the past.
“Nakakapanghinayang! Kakaunti na nga lang ang mga ganyan kalaking venues para sa mga atleta natin at kabataan, may peligro pang mawala,” Tolentino said.