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Duterte to launch Institute

President Duterte will lead the formal launching of the Philippine Sports Institute (PSI) on Jan.16 that is seen by sports stakeholders as the last piece of the puzzle that will make the country reach its full potential in the years to come.

The Philippines is one of only a few countries in Asia that doesn’t have an institute devoted to elite sports and grassroots development and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) is upbeat that its re-launch will be the last.

President Duterte will deliver a keynote address with Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William ‘Butch’ Ramirez taking the lead in the event that starts at 3 p.m. at the Philsports in Pasig.

National training director Marc Velasco, recruited by Ramirez to form the backbone of the PSI, believes it is the missing link to the country’s medal woes not only in the Olympics but in the continental and regional meets as well.

“ I believe that you won’t have a great elite program if you don’t have a great grassroots development,” said Velasco, who lend a hand in Hong Kong’s bronze medal in cycling during the London Olympics as a staffer of the Hong Kong Institute of Sports.

But Velasco warns that success won’t happen overnight, admitting that while he hopes to see “good results” in the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, the realistic target is for the PSI bear fruit in the 2024 Olympics.

The PSI, which will run on a monthly budget of P25 million, Velasco insists “will bring services to the athletes.”

Part of that will come in the form of equipment that will be diagnostic in nature as Velasco puts premium on physiology in identifying talent.

Ramirez has extended an invitation to the newly-appointed US ambassador Kim Sung to grace the inaugural rites of the PSI while sending similar invites to the ambassadors from the Australia and China and Russia, two countries Duterte has been reaching out to.

PSC Executive Director Carlo Abarquez is hoping that the PSI won’t be just a project of the current government as key members of the Senate and Congress have expressed deep interest in passing a law for its creation.

“Once the PSI is signed into law, it will get its own funding,” said Abarquez, who was joined in yesterday’s press briefing by commissioners Charles Maxey and Celia Kiram and Henry Daut of the Mindanao State University.

Maxey says the PSC is only adhering to what is in the law in resuscitating the institute.

“Under RA 6847, the PSC is mandated to provide facilities and the PSI is the answer to that. This is the answer to the question why we don’t have a grassroots development,” he said.

The Senate and Congress committees on sports have also been invited to witness the launch.