FORMER Sen. Nikki Coseteng pressed the panic button in swimming with the 30th Southeast Asian Games in Manila only nine months away.
Coseteng urged both the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) to finally put an end to the long-running controversy in the sport and give all talented Filipino swimmers an equal opportunity to represent the country in the SEAG.
“Time is fast running out. We have to get our best swimmers together to represent the country in the SEA Games,” said Coseteng during the 10th 'Usapang Sports" by the Tabloid Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) at the National Press Club in Intramuros.
But Coseteng said bringing the best swimmers and best coaches together is not possible unless the leadership dispute is resolved at the soonest possible time.
“It is really getting tiring and frustrating. But we cannot let politics rear its ugly head in sports time and again. It is unfair,” explained Coseteng, also the honorary chairperson of the Philippine Swimming League (PSL).
A well-known human rights activist during her younger days, Coseteng also questioned the tryouts for the national team called by the Philippine Swimming Institure zmand supported by POC president Ricky Vargas.
“Kung yun illegal president, tatawag ng tryouts, legal ba yun?," added the former lawmaker from Quezon City.
“Unang-una, lahat ng may ginawang katiwalian, dapat kasuhan. Kung mapatunayag may katiwalaan, dapat makulong. Kung gusto natin magkaroon ng pagkaka-isa, dapat may katarungan.”
Coseteng recalled an incident in the past when a young swimmer won the gold medal in actual competition only to be told by the organizers that the gold was reserved for a swimmer from another swimming body.
She also lamented the alleged unfair practice of collecting payment from parents so that the children can be included in the national team.
“Our top swimmer, Jasmine Modjeh, won six to seven golds in her last tournament. Sya ang No. 1 swimmer natin pero bakit hindi sya kasali sa age-group ng swimming ng SEAG.”
Coseteng also took the opportunity to deny that she is pursuing the change in swimming leadership because she is interested in becoming an NSA president.
“When I first started to become an advocate on the proper way to run an NSA, I have been accused of so many things. Lahat binato na sa akin. But if kung may goal ka talaga, lahat ng mga asong tumatahol sa gilid, hindi mo papansinin.”
Added Coseteng: “I can't imagine myself becoming an NSA president because if I run an NSA the way I wanted it, they'll probably throw me out in two days or even in 30 minutes.”
Coseteng was joined during the weekly sports session by TATAND honorary president Charlie Lim and player John Russell Misal, CBA founding president Carlo Maceda and Marikina Sapateros team owner Brian Tan and QCBL officials BJ Manalo, Pong Rollan and Ricky Alcantara.
TOPS, headed by People’s Tonight sports editor Ed Andaya, is composed of sports editors, sportswriters and photographers from the country’s leading tabloids.
“Usapang Sports” is shown live on Facebook via Glitter Livestream.
Supporting the weekly session are the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), headed by Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez and the National Press Club (NPC), led by Rolando “Lakay” Gonzalo.