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Sepak Takraw needs ‘Godfather’ for permanent training venue

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The Philippine Sepak Takraw Federation badly needs a ‘Godfather’.

With the recent success in the 19th Asian Games, the Pinoy sepak artists are hopeful that someone will finally open the door to lend a helping hand as they continue their quest for glory in the international competition.

“Until now, wala po kaming permanenting training gym. Palipat-lipat kami, mostly nakikigamit sa Dacudao tennis court sa Rizal Memorial Tennis Center. Iba pa rin po yung may training venue para tuloy-tuloy ang programa,” said Huerte, who was joined by teammate Ronsited Gabayeron during the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) ‘Usapang Sports’ on Thursday at the PSC Conference room in Malate,Manila.

The PH Team captain of the men’s regu and quadrant team that won bronze medals in the recently concluded Asian Games in Hangzhou, China claimed that despite the challenges they are facing before going to Asiad, they were physically and mentally ready.

“Actually yung manalo ng medalya wala sa hinagap namin. Sa simula pa lang sabi namin enjoy lang at maglaro ng maayos. Unti-unti, nagkaroon kami ng chances, isang puntos na lang actually ang layo namin sa championship, kinapos lang,” said Gabayeron in the weekly forum sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission, Behrouz Persian Cuisine and Pocari Sweat.

Huerte admitted that sponsors are not interested in sepak because of its unpopularity to Filipinos, even though it’s the most played sport in the Southeast Asian region.

Pinoy takraw artists got the bronze medal in the regu event (3 players) and the quadrant event (4 players). This is the first medal the country has won since sepak takraw became a regular sport at the Asian Games in 1990.

“We know that it is very difficult to be acknowledged by the private sector, but our president, Ms. Karen Tanchangco works hard to get us the necessary support. We cannot blame the government because there are many sports under the Philippine Sports Commission,” said 30-year-old Huerte, the most veteran player in the team.

Despite the lack of a permanent training venue, Gabayeron is confident that sepak takraw will achieve many more honors in tournaments abroad including the upcoming Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in February in Thailand, as well as the SEA Games in 2025 where they aim to surpass the two silvers won in Cambodia last May.

“We continue training even if we move around. Hopefully, we can get young players who can join us in future tournaments abroad,” according to Gabayeron.

This coming November 7-10, sepak will hold the National tryouts featuring invited players from the Visayas and Mindanao, while using the Batang Pinoy and Philippine National Games – two PSC projects for young athletes – to select female players.

“Malaking bagay po sa aming mga atleta ang magkaroon ng sariling training venue, pero kung wala pa naman wala naman pong balakid para hindi mapataas ng atketa ang kanilang competitiveness at skills. Sa sepak, talagang yung skills mo ang kailangang madevelop sa mahabang panahon,” said Huerte.

Along with other Asiad team members Mark Joseph Gonzales, Rheyjey Ortouste, and Jom Rafael, the sepak takraw bronze medalists are set to receive P200,000 each based on the current Incentives Act.

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