Davao del Norte: the new sports capital of the South

And, later this month, the first official provincial trip of the 2008 Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Fiesta Cup that will feature the inaugural game of the import-laden conference will take place in the country's biggest banana exporting province at the Multi-Purpose Tourism, Cultural and Sports Center in Panabo City.

Even before the talks on these two big events got underway, the province has been poised to become the new sports capital of the South. It has laid down the groundwork for a reinvigorated thrust towards positioning itself as a major sports destination in the country.

Gov. Rodolfo Del Rosario made three major bold steps towards achieving that goal. First, he appointed his son, former vice governor and true-blue sportsman Anthony del Rosario to head the province’s sports front office.

Second, he programmed the reconstruction of the burned old sports complex into a spanking new state-of-the-art facility. And third, he conducted a province-wide consultative sports summit to redirect the policies and programs on sports.

All these are geared towards an immediate goal—to host the 2010 Palarong Pambansa, the country’s national biggest school-based sports competition, according to a statement sent to MindaNews.

Davao City and other provinces in the Davao region have been eyed as possible hosts of the annual national sports conclave. However, the unavailability of a venue made the region lose in past biddings.

In contrast, Southwestern Mindanao neighbors Koronadal City, Sarangani Province and General Santos City have all hosted the Palarong Pambansa, the former having hosted the meet in 1995 and in 2006.

The new sports complex project will start soon in Barangay Mankilam across the province’s Government Center, where the old sports complex once stood until it was razed by fire in March 2003.

"We expect this project to be completed by 2010," Gov. del Rosario said.

The younger Del Rosario, who owned the Davao Eagles franchise in the defunct MBA, is now laying the cornerstones of the province’s sports program that will lead to the possible hosting of other major sports events like the revived Mindanao Friendship Games and the Davao Regional Athletic Association, or even national competitions conducted by the National Sports Associations.
In November, it was reported that the provincial engineer’s office had prepared the blueprint of the proposed 15-hectare sports complex project originally amounting to P171 million. But based on today’s prices of construction materials, the appraised value of the project could reach up to more than P200 million.

Construction of a total of 49 spans of concrete bleachers, rehabilitation and upgrading of the Olympic size swimming pool, construction of a modern oval track with rubberized track materials and synthetic foot soccer field, proposed parking area that can accommodate more than 300 cars, among other vital components are the priorities of the project.
An executive clubhouse is also included in the plan, while the existing mini-forest shall be retained to provide an ecological balance.

The PBA is taking its act down south with an exciting match-up pitting the Coca-Cola Tigers and the Talk N Text Phone Pals on March 29 at the Panabo Multi-Purpose Tourism, Cultural and Sport Center in Davao del Norte, the PBA website reported.
Organized by the city's local government unit led by Mayor Jose Silvosa Sr., the lone game scheduled at 4:30 p.m. highlights the celebration of the 7th Araw ng Panabo City.

The Panabo stop is an official provincial game of the import-laced 2008 Smart PBA Fiesta Cup, which opens on March 30 at the Araneta Coliseum with a double-header featuring Welcoat against Air 21 at 4:30 p.m. and Red Bull facing Barangay Ginebra at 6:50 p.m. (Rico Biliran/MindaNews)