Expect a deluge of foreign athletes from the Southeast Asian region when the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association holds the 14th Southeast Youth Athletics Championships and the 2019 Philippine National Open Athletics Championships this March in Ilagan, Isabela.
This was announced by Patafa chief Philip Ella Juico during the launching of the twin tournaments at the Elm’s Kapihan and Bar in Pasig City yesterday.
The 14th SEA Youth trackfest is slated on March 2 and 3, while the Philippine National Open takes place from March 6 to 8.
“Thailand is sending a total of 50 athletes to the SEA Youth, which is bigger than our youth team and the national open. Vietnam will send also their best athletes in both events as well as other countries that have their youth teams,” said Juico.
With the Asian Youth Championships to be held a week later from March 15 to 17 in Hong Kong, many countries will be sending big delegations to Isabela to prepare and get their athletes in shape.
“The timing of both the SEA Youth and the National Open is rather perfect because the Asian Youth in Hong Kong is on March 12 to 15. Many countries are preparing and have athletes who are going there (HK) before going home,” added Juico.
The twin meets will also be an opportunity for the Philippines to get ready for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games which it hosts later this year as it seeks to find local medalists who can be part of the national pool and eventually the national team.
With Juico during the launching were Jaime Villegas of Ayala Corporation and former Ilagan City Mayor Jay Diaz, a newly-elected member of the Patafa Board of Trustees supporting the event with current Mayor Edna Diaz.
The weeklong trackfest will be held with the support of Ayala Corporation, Milo, Soleus and the City of Ilagan.
Aside from Thailand and Vietnam, also sending participants to the Patafa meets are Timor-Leste, Cambodia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore and Laos.
Host Philippines is forming the best national youth squad that possible.
“We never had a youth team in the country before and we are trying to form one now. There are many challenges,” said Juico, citing that they need the nod of the schools to do so.
Over the last two years, the City of Ilagan, which has one of only two internationally-accredited tracks in the country, will host the National Open for a third straight year and is looking forward to hosting the 14th Southeast Asian Youth Championships for the second time since 2017.