Team Philippines at a Glance

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WITH THE 26th Jakarta-Palembang Southeast Asian Games and the London 2012 Olympic games close at hand, Philippine teams are rigorously preparing for grand sporting events amidst difficult hurdles and challenges. Beyond Loyola zooms in on six teams bent on gaining recognition, here and throughout the sporting world.


Rugby: The Volcanoes

British, Australians and New Zealanders introduced rugby union in the country, giving rise to the Philippine Rugby Football Union. Successive international triumphs are rapidly boosting the team’s popularity, in addition to them being hired by local clothing company, Bench, as underwear endorsers.

Strengths

The team is fast becoming one of Asia’s top five rugby union teams. Defeating the United Arab Emirates, Thailand, and top-ranked South Korea elevates their overall rank from 10th to 7th in the Asian Rugby League.

Weaknesses

Coach Expo Mejia revealed that during international tournaments, his players paid for fares with their own money.


Basketball: Smart-GILAS

The country’s national basketball team was founded in 2009 when they were sent to the Asian Club Championships (ACC) in Indonesia. Gilas means Gearing Up Internet Literacy and Access for Students, a project of Telecommunications Company, SMART.

Strengths

In the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship in China, the team’s standings are promising, as they secure a semifinals slot for the first time since the team finished fourth in Bangkok in 1987.

Weaknesses

They are not sufficiently funded by the government, but by telecommunications company SMART’s owner, Manuel V. Pangilinan.


Football: Azkals

Currently in preparation for the upcoming Long Teng Cup in Taiwan, the team featuring several notable Filipino-foreign recruits is one of Asia’s oldest national teams. Conquering Vietnam in the 2010 Suzuki Cup led them to an almost overnight fame.

Strengths

In the 2011 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, the team won for the first time against Sri Lanka. With the individual players swiftly gaining celebrity-like attention from a growing crowd of football-supporters, this helped make football a more prominent presence in the country.

Weaknesses

Financial support from the PSC is insufficient, leading them to rely on sponsorships and the private sector for funding.


Dragon Boat: Dragon Boat Paddlers

Sponsored by Cobra Energy Drink and Philippine Airlines, the team has recently shown its remarkable prowess as they bring home medals from international events.

Strengths

The team held record race times in the 2007 Worlds in Sydney and later in the 2009 Worlds in Czech Republic. The team also won a third world title in the biennial International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) 10th World Dragon Boat Championships in Tampa Bay, Florida.

Weaknesses

With the rowers using the same wooden paddles since 2007, the team clearly lacks monetary support, often leading to financial struggles while competing. Moreover, PDBF is not a national team unless they become a member of the Philippine Canoe and Kayak Federation (PCKF).


Track and Field: Tracksters

They are comprised of runners, jumpers and throwers in the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (PATAFA), the leading track and field organization in the country.

Strengths

The team has harvested the most number of SEA Games medals over the years. In 2005, they won 9 of the national delegation’s 113 gold, 10 of 84 silver, and 7 of 94 bronze medals. The team is expected to reap 6 or 7 medals for this year’s SEA Games.

For the 2012 Olympics, the British Embassy and British Council announced that they would shoulder the training of 14 Filipinos, including long jumpers Marestella Torres and Henry Dagmil.

Weaknesses

The POC recently declared PATAFA president Go Teng Kok a persona non grata due to a conflict brought by limiting the number of SEA Games delegates.


Taekwondo: Taekwondo Jins

The team is part of the Philippine Taekwondo Association (PTA), a member of the World Taekwondo Federation and the POC. In the 2009 Laos SEA Games, the team won the first gold medal for the country.

Strengths

The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) identified taekwondo as one of 10 sports where Filipinos can perform well, entitling them to a greater share of the 2012 budget as compared to underperforming sports teams.

Weaknesses

The PSC has not yet qualified the team in the Olympic games.

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