Cayetano rallies PH athletes; vows to sustain government support

KUALA LUMPUR — Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Saturday rallied Team Philippines seeing action in the ongoing 29th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

He congratulated the victors as well as commended all Filipino athletes who gave all out their best for flag and country.

Secretary Cayetano, together with Representative Pia Cayetano and some senior government officials, personally watched the women’s volleyball match between Philippines and Thailand held at the modern and newly-built Malaysia International Trade and Exhibit Center (MITEC), boosting the fighting spirit of Filipino athletes.

“God bless you, you did a tremendous job,” said Secretary Cayetano, who together with his sister (Rep. Pia Cayetano), personally went to the women’s volleyball team dugout to lift the team’s morale after a hard beating in three straight sets against the well-trained and more experienced Thailand team.

Cayetano, who is also chairman of the organizing committee for the 2019 SEA Games, vowed that the government will sustain its support to Filipino athletes.

“(The) 2019 (SEAG) is really to showcase Philippines, but actually to prepare them (athletes) for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” he noted.

“There’s a lot of work,” Cayetano told Philippine News Agency, commenting on how Malaysia prepared for the hosting of this regional biennial meet parallel to their sports program and support to their national teams.

“This stadium, this sports facility that we are standing is a testament to that,” said Cayetano adding “we can’t build this in two years, but it does not mean that we will not build something.”

Cayetano stressed that grassroots sports program is a key factor to improve and develop future national athletes.

He emphasized the collaboration and partnership of the Department of Education (DepEd).

“I hope 2019 (SEA Games)-2020 (Tokyo Olympics) will spark that momentum,” he said.

On the support for Filipino athletes, Cayetano emphasized: “it should be all out support by all sectors of our society.”

He noted: “in school, focus has been in science and math. But we forget arts, music and sports. It’s the soul.”

He said through sports, the concepts of teamwork and discipline are valued.

The Chairman of the 2019 SEA Games believes that an honest-to-goodness sports program also plays a major role to sustain government efforts on anti-drug.

“We really want to use the 2019 SEA Games to signal a new age of support and importance of sports to the Philippines,” Cayetano said. (PNA)