The Cambodia-bound Philippine delegation to the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games received a morale booster no less from President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., who expressed his pride and pleasure in welcoming the 905 athletes and 257 coaches and delegation officials in a fitting send-off ceremony at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) Monday, April 24.
The President recognized the importance of sports and how it contributes to society beyond the competition itself.
“I have found that sport is one of the very few activities that we can say we do without any downside,” Marcos said. “The only downside to sport is sometimes you get injured. Everything else is good for you. It’s good for your discipline. It’s good for your health. It’s good for your camaraderie. It’s good to mature young people.”
Marcos also acknowledged the crucial role of sports ambassadors who represent the country in international competitions. “Our champions who bring home medals and trophies bring joy and pride to the Filipino people. They are our Filipino champions, and they bring honor to the Philippines,” Marcos said.
Marcos reminded the delegation that they carry the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of the entire nation. He emphasized the challenges faced by the athletes during the pandemic, but he commended their efforts in persevering and continuing to win despite the difficulties.
“I thank you all very much for the honor and the glory that you bring to our country,” Marcos said, addressing the athletes who have made their name on the international stage. “The hopes and the dreams and the aspirations of our countrymen for the Philippines ride with you.”
Marcos expressed his unwavering support and the support of the entire Filipino nation to the athletes, coaches, and trainers.
“You have 107 million na kakampi na walang ginawa kung hindi magdasal na maging successful sa inyo, walang ginawa kung hindi isipin kung papaano kayo panalunin, kung papaano kayo tulungan, kung papaano kayong palakasin (You have 107 million supporters who do nothing but pray for your success, who do nothing but think of ways to help you win, who do nothing but strengthen you),” Marcos said. “And that is the tradition that you have brought. That sportsmen have brought to the Philippines by making their name abroad.”
The Philippine delegation will compete in various sports in the biennial Games. The President expressed his confidence in the delegation’s capabilities and wished them luck in the competition.
“I know all of you athletes, not only the athletes, but the trainers, the coaches, all the support you bring to have a successful campaign,” Marcos said. “You are our ambassadors of goodwill, our sports ambassadors, and I wish you all the best. Good luck and God bless you all!”
Thunderous applause greeted the President’s speech, and the athletes expressed their gratitude and excitement for the upcoming competition.
With the unwavering support of the Filipino people, the delegation aims to bring home more medals and make the nation proud.
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Abraham Tolentino and Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chair Richard Bachmann were among the officials present at the send-off ceremony for the Filipino athletes heading to the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Phnom Penh. Also in attendance were Senator Bong Go, Congressman and POC official Richard Gomez, and other sports officials.
Tolentino expressed optimism about the Philippines’ chances in the biennial event, acknowledging the challenge of maintaining their position after finishing fourth in the previous SEA Games with a 52-gold, 70-silver, and 104-bronze medal haul in Hanoi. He vowed to do their best to showcase the skills and talents of Filipino athletes as the country prepares for the upcoming SEA Games, followed by Thailand in 2025 and Malaysia in 2027.
Meanwhile, Bachmann committed to personally supporting the team from start to finish and ensuring that all bases are covered. He expressed satisfaction with the budget distribution to all national sports associations (NSAs), emphasizing that they are supporting the athletes 100 percent. Looking forward to next year’s SEA Games, Bachmann hopes for a better allocation of resources.