This interview features Alex Tianco, a student at the University of the Philippines - Diliman and the Founder of Saved by Sports.
How did you become a youth leader in the sports sector?
For over three generations, the baseball pitch was like home. My grandfather passed away before I could play catch-and-throw with him, but even if I never got to see him play, my love for baseball was passed on to me from my dad. My dad believed in the transformative powers of sports and since I was six years old, sports has played a pivotal role in my life. As a result, just like my dad and grandfather, I ended up running, hitting, and learning on a baseball diamond.
Accordingly, my experiences on and off the field shaped me into the young leader I am today in the sports sector. To be more specific, it allowed me to represent my country twice in baseball, given me the opportunity to compete in the most competitive collegiate league in the Philippines, and has provided me the opportunity to be a sports journalist and producer. But beyond my personal gain, I have witnessed that active participation in sports improves community health and productivity, reduces medical expenses, imbibes discipline in character, generates great leaders, and enhances social cohesion. This is why five, ten, twenty years from now, one thing is for sure; I will be constantly striving to inspire the youth through sports.
What are the most pressing issues that concern Filipino athletes and how do you address these issues?
The recent success our country had during the Olympics brought about more support in Philippine sports from both the public and private sectors. However, this support is still not enough and we have a long way to go before we reach our ideal sports community. Right now, I would say that the most pressing issues that concern our Filipino athletes can be divided by the level of competition they are currently competing in. For national athletes, the absence of top-notch equipment and facilities has continued to hamper their growth. At the same time, a number of our national athletes have spoken out about the lack of financial support they receive from the country. As a result, due to the limited assistance that they receive here in the Philippines, some of our national athletes have already migrated to different countries and were left with no choice but to no longer represent our country.
On the other hand, for our younger Filipino athletes, I believe we need a more sustainable and well-developed grassroots program. For instance, a lot of naturally gifted athletes can be found in provincial communities, but sadly they never make it past the high school level due to the lack of support and development that a grassroots program could have nurtured. Ultimately, the root cause of the issues that our Filipino athletes face can be traced back to the lack of assistance, insufficient funds, initiatives, and programs that our country has failed to provide.
As a youth leader in the sports sector, what characteristics are you looking for in a national and local government candidate? How would these characteristics enable the candidate to address the issues that you mentioned?
Personally, as a youth leader, a national or local government candidate for me should be an exceptional listener, an effective communicator, a transparent leader, and a progressive and empathetic person. First, being an exceptional listener is an important trait since it is the most simple way to understand the root cause of problems in communities or organizations; this is the first step in finding ways to improve and ultimately, lead to the progression of communities. Moreover, having this trait will greatly help our potential government leaders connect with and understand their community members. Thus, allowing them to create plans and projects that will aid the imminent problem within their community. Second, I believe we need a government leader that can effectively communicate, encourage, and motivate the community towards accomplishing their shared goal. At the same time, possessing this trait will ensure clarity when conducting programs or operations. Third, given our current political situation, I believe a transparent leader is needed to build trust between our government and countrymen. Lastly, being progressive would greatly help in creating and planning projects that will suit each sector of the community. While being empathetic would ensure that the government leader will be quick to take action against problems developing within the general public.
As a youth leader in the sports sector, what policies and programs do you want national and local government candidates to support? Which of these do you want to be prioritized?
Well taking into consideration the budget provided for sports and the number of athletes we have at the national level, I would want our government candidates to support and add more talented athletes in the Hidilyn Model created by the Philippine Sports Commission. This system was created to produce an Olympic gold for our country by providing selected national athletes resources for traveling, training, nutrition, and conditioning. If we can expand and allow more athletes to participate in the Hidilyn Model then another Olympic gold may be within our reach.
For the grassroots level, similar to what I previously mentioned, a more sustainable and well-developed grassroots program is needed. The newly minted National Academy of Sports would be a great program if executed correctly since it allows our younger athletes to hone in on their skills while being provided a scholarship to continue their education. However, at the moment, this is only limited to select student-athletes, and so hopefully in the near future, our next leaders will create more opportunities similar to this for our younger athletes especially in provincial communities to ensure competitiveness within the whole Philippines.
Should candidates with these characteristics and priorities succeed in #Halalan2022, how do you envision the Philippines and the lived realities of Filipino athletes in 6 years?
Beyond the potential Olympic Golds, Asian Medals, or world records we can achieve in the next six years, I envision seeing a fire within our Filipino athletes. A fire brought about by a community wherein the younger generation will not be forced to stop dreaming and competing in the sport that they love because money was an issue, and a fire from our national athletes knowing that their country is right behind them. In the next six years, I hope to see a country that truly encapsulates our battle cry in sports ━ PUSO.