Fair Play: Let's end DepEd's cruel Palaro practice

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's April 30 edition)
IN 2007, when I covered the Palarong Pambansa for the first and last time, I saw a bunch of elementary football players barely having even the strengh to even cry after a tough finals loss.

They were playing their fifth game in three days, because the tournament manager’s only concern was the schedule, not the players’ welfare. I thought those days are gone and DepEd has finally taken steps to ensure players’ health aren’t compromised in the Palaro.

But it turns out that I am wrong.

In the 2015 Palarong Pambansa, Mandaue City, representing Region 7, will play two games at 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on the same day, against the toughest contenders in Western Visayas and Calabarzon.

That shouldn’t happen. And before the May 3 opening, I hope everything will be ironed out and the schedule would be fixed. I heard the team will question the scheduling and I hope Mandaue City and Region 7 will support the move.

Before anything else. Remember, this is not about facing the tough teams, this is about having two games in a six-hour span, something that is not only ridiculous but dangerous.

Come on! Try standing still under the afternoon heat for 90 minutes straight. Go rest for another 90 minutes, and do it again starting at 6:30 p.m.

Can you do it? Then imagine playing football under those conditions.

I hope this schedule gets questioned because it’s about time the Palarong Pambansa comes out of the dark ages. People have died to heat stroke in the Palaro, must they wait until an athlete dies before they change their mind?

It’s time somebody educates the Department of Education!

If they won’t change this schedule, I hope Secretary Armand Luistro and the other regional heads would force the tournament managers to experience the schedule.

Perhaps they could join them.

Have them stand still in the afternoon heat for 90 minutes straight—no water break, no bathroom break and no cellphones. If they want a sip of water, they have to get whacked in the head first.

Remember, footballers only get a water break if an injury merits the attention of the medics, hence, a break in play.

There’s a very easy way to avoid this. Hold two or three games before the opening ceremony.

Why can’t they do that? Why can’t the Department of Education not see such simple solution the whole world is using?


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