PATAFA says fewer track & field athetes now

"We have athletes but only few. The number is reducing," Taala, who was alarmed by the current dilemma the sport is facing, told MindaNews on Monday.

Taala blamed the lack of competition and slow promotion that slightly hampered the grassroots development of the sport in the region.

"When I visit schools, it's sad to learn that there are only a few students who engage or has an interest in playing the sport," Taala lamented. "If this will continue, we will have a problem," she added.

Addressing the debacle, Taala said she is planning to conduct monthly competitions to provide tournaments and encourage the young ones to play the sport.

"This is one way of promoting the sport," said Taala.

In this city, the Davao City Private School Athletic Association (DC-PRISAA) and its regional competition, the Southern Mindanao PRISAA, are the only tournaments for the tertiary athletes. In the case of elementary and high school athletes, only the Davao City Athletic Association (DCAA) and the Davao Region Athletic Association (DAVRAA) offer tournaments for track and field.

Both school-based competitions are held annually.

There is no track and field competition in the calendar of Davao Association of Colleges and Schools (DACS), one of the multi-sport inter-school competitions in the region.

Track stars in Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte and Davao Oriental are also competing in the Southern Mindanao PRISAA and DAVRAA that serve as selection basis for the region's delegation to the annual National PRISAA championships and Palarong Pambansa.

Taala also called for the development of the Davao City National High School track oval so that local athletes would have a venue for training and for future competitions.

"It's beautiful. It's a standard oval," said Taala of the DCNH oval.

Davao Oriental has its own track oval inside the Mati Centennial Sports Complex in the City of Mati while Davao del Norte has one at the Capitol Sports Complex in Tagum City, the capital.

Despite the problems track and field is facing the past several years, the Southern Mindanao PRISAA men's team ruled last year's National PRISAA Championships Athletics competition in Iloilo City, according to Joaquin Sarabia, SM-PRISAA athletic manager.

Also last year, Anthony Nevza, a native of Davao del Sur, won gold medal in the 400-meter run during the Palarong Pambansa that was held in Koronadal City, South Cotabato. (Rico Biliran / MindaNews)