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Athlete’s welfare and livelihood a must — PSC Commissioner Wawit Torres

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NEWLY appointed Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Commissioner Walter Francis ‘Wawit’ Torres said his experiences as an athlete, coach and official of an Olympic organization might be a big help as he embarked on his new role as one of the five executives in the government’s leading sports agency.

An Olympian fencer (1992 Barcelona) and Southeast Asian Games four gold medal winner, Torres stressed he fully understand the plight of the athletes and coaches as he bowed to give them priority as the new PSC Board starts working with the arrival of Chairman Richard ‘Dickie’ Bachmann.

Bachmann is expected to join the PSC Board on Wednesday as he just arrived from US vacation. He was named as new PSC Chairman three days before the new year replacing former PBA commissioner Noli Eala.

“Well, kailangan naming malaman kung ano ang direction na gustong tahakin ni Chairman (Bachmann). But we must check what are the immediate concerned. On my part I will present to the Board my plans for the athletes’ welfare and try to improve the policy on NSA’s request.

“Hindi ko sinasabi na mali yung current policy dyan, but we need drastic improvement para mas mapabilis yung proseso sa mga request lalo na sa athletes training, allowances and participation abroad,” added Torres, who personally experienced bureaucracy at the agency as Secretary General of the Philippine Sports Association of the Differently Abled (PHILSPADA).

“But I’m now part of the bigger world (PSC). Hindi lang Para ang seserbisyuhan ko but all sports association. We must work together for the success of Philippine Sports,” said Torres.

Torres said they will try to come out with a system to maintain a ‘large’ pool of national athletes who will receive enough compensation, education, and livelihood program in time for their retirement.

“You identified the players, there must be a pool, siyempre a policy kung paano masusustain yung training nila kahit wala pa sila sa National Training pool. Hindi natin matitiyak yung training nila kung walang pondo for them.

“While in the National Team, kailangan continued ang pag-aaral, kahit vocational courses kung four-year course much better. At the pick of their career, we must educate our athletes how to handle their finances, dapat may livelihood program and housing para in time of retirement handa sila at hindi maging kaawa-awa,” added Torres, referring to some noted athletes including Olympian boxer Leopoldo Serrantes who died penniless.

 “Grassroots development and livelihood ng mga atleta, that’s the top priority na idi-discuss ko once the Board convene,” added Torres, a dentist by profession and Director of the Loyola Schools Physical Education Program.

Torres, and fellow newly appointed Commissioner Edward Hayco, former Cebu Sports Commission head, was officially introduced by Commissioner Olivia ‘Bong’ Coo to PSC personnel during Tuesday flag-raising ceremony.

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