Thursday, July 23, 2015

Fair Play: A program Talisay City should support

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's July 22 edition)
TALISAY City-based swim coach Alfie Fernandez is achieving what some politicians only talk about come election time—helping kids through sports.

And these are actual under-privileged kids, not the kids who are the favorite of traditional politicos and are the subject of their "grassroots" program—those eligible to vote.

Last summer, he started a clinic for kids who hang out near the Talisay City public beach, most of them the sons of single moms. He trains them at the sea, against the flow of tide because using a pool means using money the coach doesn't have.


A member of the SEA Knights and a sea steward himself, Fernandez has two reasons for starting the program—to make the kids competitive swimmers, who could join future competitions and to inspire them to protect the sea.

But to get there, he needs to help the kids take that first step, a swim competition. And a coach of a free clinic is hardly financially sound to do that.

Still he did it. And he did it impressively. A 12-member team won 32 medals in the novice race in Bohol, 14 of them gold. That's the equivalent of a novice football squad winning two age groups in their first go.

Why the football reference? Because a futsal team from Talisay, who also had a kind-hearted coach who taught them for free, did win a medal in the Batang Pinoy at their first go, relying on doleouts along the way.

That coach went to Mayor JVR—who proudly admitted in his Soca how he used his intelligence funds to help feed the poor—and he got P50 after almost a day’s wait at his office.

P50 for a tournament outside Cebu for six girls. He never returned, even after they brought home the gold medal.

Fernandez just showed what dedication can do to a bunch of kids, who are very lucky to have someone like their coach. Of course, we can hope that the Talisay City government wakes up and starts helping the coach’s clinic by the sea. But with the way things are going, that’s going to be as likely as me winning a triathlon title.

I hope am wrong.

I hope Daniel Caballero, the chair of the Talisay City Sports Commission, who reportedly asked for an extra P1 million from four provincial officials because the P4.5 million allocation for the commission was too small, would take time to visit this clinic by the sea.

It’s still the middle of the year and I hope the P4.5 million budget hasn’t been used up and he can kick in P500,000 for the equipment and tournament expenses of the kids. 

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