6,000 athletes compete in 2014 SRAA

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/10 February) — Around 6,000 athletes from various parts of Region 12 will see action in the 2014 Soccsksargen Regional Athletic Association (SRAA) meet here that will officially begin on Tuesday and feature 17 sport events.

Dr. Allan Farnazo, Department of Education (DepEd) Region 12 director, said Monday all nine school divisions in the region have fielded nearly complete contingents for the five-day regional games, which is slated February 10 to 14 at the South Cotabato Sports Complex.

Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

“We’re expecting very tight competitions from all participating delegations as well possible record-breaking finishes that will hopefully anchor our bid later on in the Palarong Pambansa,” the official said.

The regional games, which was renamed to SRAA from the previous Cotabato RAA, was formally opened on Monday morning by Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro following a grand parade and opening rites at the South Cotabato Sports Complex here.

All events or games, however, will start on Tuesday morning.

In his message, Luistro challenged the region’s athletic delegation to work harder and aim for a better finish in the Palarong Pambansa in May that will be hosted by the province of Laguna.

Region 12 emerged seventh overall among the country’s 17 regions in the 2013 Palarong Pambansa held in Dumaguete City.

But Luistro urged participating athletes “to remember that the SRAA and the Palarong Pambansa is not just about winning and finishing at the top of the ranking.”

He said it’s “all about dreaming big and soaring high like a kite in the skies. It’s about the dream of each athlete and their determination to achieve them.”

Luistro cited the experiences of top athletes from the region like Olympians Eduardo Buenavista and Henry Dagmil as well as world boxing icon and Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao.

“It’s important for each one to take these dreams by heart and not let go of them whatever happens along the way. Because if we let go of these dreams then everything will be useless,” Luistro said.

Buenavista and Dagmil, who lighted the SRAA torch during the opening ceremonies, were former CRAA standouts in athletics before making it to the national team and eventually competing in various international competitions.

Buenavista, who started his athletics career at the Sto. Nino National High School of Sto. Nino, South Cotabato, is a heralded long-distance runner who competed in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia and the 2004 edition in Athens, Greece.

Dagmil, who competed in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, was a product of the Maltana National High School in Tampakan, South Cotabato.

He reclaimed his Southeast Asian Games title in men’s long jump in Myanmar last December and will compete in the Asian championships in China next week and world championships in Poland next month.

Meantime, South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes said all the necessary preparations are so far in place for the SRAA, which is being hosted anew by the provincial government.

Fuentes said they earlier released some P1.035 from the province’s Special Education Fund to fund the hosting of the event.

The governor said the amount was on top of the allocation for the repair and maintenance released by the local government for various facilities at the South Cotabato Sports Complex.

The facility serves as the main venue of the regional games, which will feature 17 sports events.

These are archery, arnis, athletics, badminton, baseball, boxing, chess, football, gymnastics, sepak takraw, sipa, softball, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, volleyball and swimming. (MindaNews)