FORMER Leyte governor Carlos Jericho Petilla urged the Provincial Government and the Department of Education (DepEd) to expand the operation of the Leyte Sports Academy (LSA) to train athletes from other five provinces of Eastern Visayas.
“It is my hope that we can expand this program so that not only Leyte will perform well, but the rest of the region. That way, we can improve the region’s ranking in national competitions,” Petilla said.
Petilla, during his second term as Leyte governor, established the LSA after the Provincial Government hosted the Palarong Pambansa in 2009. The Leyte Sports Development Center where the LSA is located was the main venue of the school-based sports competition.
The creation of LSA was envisioned to look for sports scholar that will help in the improvement of the region’s ranking in the annual sports event, without sacrificing academic performance of sports scholars.
From 16th place in 2009, Eastern Visayas ranking in Palarong Pambansa inched up to 11th in the 2016 Palarong Pambansa.
But Petilla, a former energy secretary, noted in the 2016 Palarong Pambansa that of the 11 gold medals earned by the region, LSA had won 10 of them.
The Provincial Government expected to earn more gold medals from LSA athletes in this fifth year of the program.
The region will not improve its ranking in Palarong Pambansa if medal gatherers are all from the LSA, said Petilla.
To achieve the goal of winning more gold in the Palarong Pambansa, Petilla asked for help of the Provincial Government and the DepEd to convince other local government officials and coaches to support the program by sending their best athletes to LSA.
For school year 2016-2017, LSA has 120 sports scholars with only 20 takers from provinces outside Leyte.
“They are very protective to their athletes not knowing that they can only achieve to a certain level if they will not be trained at LSA. We need to convince the coaches also to bring their athletes to LSA,” Petilla said.
He added that the academy does not only prepare local athletes for local sports competition, but also for international sports events, wherein some LSA students brought home medals.
Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla agreed with his brother saying it is time for LSA to have a wider reach, considering that they are slowly achieving the goal of producing quality athletes.
“We really need help from other provinces and schools division because if we rely on Leyte alone, we cannot make it to the top. We cannot earn more gold, it’s hard to attain,” Petilla said.
But LSA operation this year is facing a budgetary problem after the Commission on Audit disallowed the Provincial Government to use budget under Special Education Fund for sports development.
“I hope that the Provincial Board will help us to continue this program by approving a supplemental budget that will fund this year’s operation,” said Petilla.
Leyte province spends P1.5 million to P2 million every year to support LSA operations. (PNA)