In a press conference at a local restaurant here, consul general John Rivas personally invited councilors Susabel Reta, Rachel Zozobrado and Peter Laviña, who represented Vice Mayor Sara Duterte, to join the Davao delegation to the international games slated May 9-17 in Darwin, capital of Northern Territory.
“They can watch the games there and at the same time meet with [their counterparts] for possible linkages in education, trade and sporting events,” said Rivas.
Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William “Butch” Ramirez recognized the significance of a sports-related friendship agreement between Darwin and this city in the past.
“There was already a friendship agreement before but it became dormant due to lack of follow up,” he said. Rivas’s invitation could be a way to renew ties, said Ramirez, who arranged Rivas’s visit to this city.
The councilors verbally agreed to revive the agreement, saying “this new effort through sports could help us a lot”.
“Not only in the in field of sports but also in trade, education and cultural exchange,” said Laviña, who is also the president of the Davao City Sports Council, Inc. (DCSCI).
Laviña sees a possible sister-city agreement in the future with Darwin, which has grown from a pioneer outpost and small port into one of Australia's most modern and multicultural cities. Its two largest economic sectors are mining and tourism.
Rivas said all sports facilities in Darwin are already in place for the Arafura Games, touted as a leading international sporting competition of the emerging champions of the Asia.
He said that renovations to some of the venues are being made but all facilities are ready. He added that 4,000 athletes, coaches and officials are expected to go to Darwin for the games.
There are 27 sport disciplines lined up in the event held every two years since 1991.
For Davao City, Ramirez advised it should send the best athletes since it needs a lot of money to go to Australia and compete in the Arafura Games.
“We have good athletes here but the problem is money. That's why for the City of Davao, it should send the best athletes who has chances to win,” said Ramirez, a former city sports coordinator before going to the PSC.
Davao City started sending athletes to the games in 1997. It was the PSC chief who headed the delegation.
The Arafura Games will be on the top agenda when the DCSCI, the sports body composed of regional heads of the National Sports Associations, holds its monthly meeting on January 13. (Rico Biliran / MindaNews)