MANILA – Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) commissioner Ramon Fernandez is grateful to the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) for choosing him to lead the way for the national team in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games later this year in Hanoi.
Appearing in a press conference for the first time since his appointment through the Usapang Sports online forum on Thursday, Fernandez thanked POC president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino and the executive board of the POC “for the confidence and trust by giving me this appointment.”
On Tuesday, the POC board agreed to name the former national basketball team and Philippine Basketball Association superstar as the chef de mission (CDM) for the Philippine team in the 31st SEA Games.
Fernandez is the second consecutive PSC official to be named CDM for the Philippines’ SEA Games team as the POC named PSC chairman Butch Ramirez for the 2019 edition that the Philippines hosted.
While working in a front office role is not really new for Fernandez since he previously handled the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association as its first commissioner and some other managerial jobs in sports and even in business before joining the PSC, he admitted that being CDM this year would be a tough one since the Philippine team is up to defend the overall championship this year overseas.
“It’s going to be a challenging mission considering that champion tayo (we the champion) the last time,” Fernandez said.
What makes it more difficult is that the Nationals were reeling from the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic which stalled their physical training for months.
“This is doubly made challenging considering that we are in a pandemic right now. It’s still touch-and-go at this moment, because I really feel that without the vaccine, it’s pretty hard to prepare our athletes the normal way for such a big international competition,” he added.
Good thing for him, Ramirez was there to mentor him.
“I’ve learned a lot from Chairman Butch Ramirez last SEA Games when he was chef de mission. We were assisting him also–the four of us commissioners where we served as deputy of sorts,” Fernandez continued.
He remained mum when he was asked about his target number of golds for the Philippines this year, but he vowed, “We will do our best.”
“I’m pretty sure the POC and the NSA’s (national sports associations), together with the PSC, PAGCOR (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation), and our friends in both the House [of Representatives] and the Senate are very supportive of our sports programs. I really believe that the budget and the preparation for the athletes are the keys to this, “he said. (PNA)