S. Cotabato to offer scholarships to athletes

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/2 June) – In a bid to develop more top athletes, the provincial government of South Cotabato will launch next month a new scholarship scheme for “poor but promising” student athletes in the province.

Florentino Perez Sr., South Cotabato sports coordinator, said Thursday the local government has initially allocated some P200,000 for the implementation of the program, which will cover emerging athletes enrolled in elementary and high schools, as well as in colleges and universities within the province’s 10 towns and lone city.

The Sports-Aral Educational Assistance Program, he said, will mainly provide “modest” financial grants to selected student athletes.

“The financial assistance will be used for the payment of school fees and other related expenses of our beneficiaries,” he said in a media forum in Koronadal City.

Under the program, Perez said they will initially provide a one-time financial assistance of P500 for elementary, P1,000 for high school and P3,000 for college athletes.

He said the funds will be released directly by the local government to the schools, colleges and universities where the beneficiaries are enrolled.

Student athletes will need to submit a letter of intent to the office of Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr. if they intend to avail of the program, which will begin by July, Perez said.

He said they would be required to complete a simple application process and a mandatory screening by program implementers.

“Our top priority are student athletes who are poor but are deserving and full of promise in terms of developing into top athletes in their chosen sports disciplines,” he said.

With the initial allocation of P200,000, Perez said they are targeting to initially enlist at least 30 to 40 scholars in all levels for this year.

But this early, he said they are already drawing up plans for the expansion of the program’s coverage as proposed by the governor.

The governor, who had vowed to enhance the development of grassroots sports initiatives in the province, has so far signified to allocate additional funds for the sports scholarship scheme and the upgrading of existing sports facilities in the province, Perez said.

He said the move is anchored on the local government’s earlier commitment to push for the development of more future sports heroes from the province such as basketball stars Kenneth Duremdes and Alvin Patrimonio, international dart champion Ian Perez, 2010 Southeast Asian Games boxing medalists Rey and Victorio Saludar III of Polomolok town as well as Olympians Annie Albania (boxing) of Banga town and Eduardo Buenavista (athletics) of Sto. Niño town.

Last month, some 300 young athletes availed of the local government’s 1st Sports-Aral summer program, a 10-day intensive sports development and skills training scheme. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)