Some National Sports Associations like athletics and swimming are known for making use of foreign athletes with Filipino lineage to boost their lineups in international competitions, especially the Southeast Asian Games where the only requirement is a Filipino passport.
Fil-foreign athletes have been known to have the edge in terms of more scientific training and exposure to high-level competitions, so they are expected to perform better than homegrown athletes.
But against Southeast Asian neighbors whose skills are improving by leaps and bounds, there is no guarantee of supreme success.
In the last SEA Games in Cambodia, only Eric Cray managed to win gold among the Fil -foreign athletes. Cray, 34, bagged his eighth SEA Games gold medal by topping the men’s 400m hurdles title.
In swimming, whose association is still embroiled in a leadership row, it is still necessary to have athletes who were exposed to more scientific training, especially in the US.
In basketball, the Gilas team is allowed to have one naturalized athlete in FIBA tournaments but can field anyone and any number of Fil-foreign players if they possess Filipino passports.
The Philippine basketball team has been doing this for so many years until Cambodia upped the ante and included pure-bred Americans in its basketball line-up and took the SEAG silver medal, losing only to Gilas in the final.
Lest we be misunderstood, accommodation of Fil-foreign athletes in sports lineup, especially if they are deserving, skillful, and willing to carry the country’s banner, is by all means a great strategy.
But there have been questions raised yet again by homegrown athletes.
Reports have it that Fil-foreign athletes enjoy more perks, and they receive more allowances than homegrown athletes.
Of course, they get special treatment —anybody should, for as long as he or she delivers.
Now, sports officials are thinking of sending local athletes abroad for training instead of sports associations “hiring” Fil-foreign athletes.
Homegrown athletes then become coaches in the future and can impart their foreign learning to young Filipino prospects.
Let’s not forget that other countries can learn from our homegrown athletes, too, especially those from combat sports in which Filipinos are known for like boxing, kickboxing, arnis, to name a few.
So, putting a balance in hiring foreign athletes and sending athletes abroad, is an idea whose time is here.