|PSC commissioner Mon Fernandez will lead the Philippine team in this year's SEA Games as CDM. Ivan Saldajeno (file photo)|
MANILA--Currently a Philippine Sports Commission commissioner as well as a former MBA commissioner, Mon Fernandez is already used to tough sports managing jobs.
But he said on Thursday that he is expecting an even bigger responsibility as the chef de mission for the Philippine team in this year's Southeast Asian Games.
"It's going to be a challenging mission," Fernandez said in the Usapang Sports forum of the Tabloid Organization in Philippine Sports.
It was the PBA and national team legend's first media appearance since the Philippine Olympic Committee on Tuesday named him as CDM for the biennial meet in Hanoi.
The Philippines, with PSC chairman Butch Ramirez at the helm as CDM, took home the overall championship in the 2019 SEA Games that the country hosted.
That alone makes Fernandez's new role daunting enough considering that aside from the fact that the Nationals will travel to Hanoi later this year, host country Vietnam slashed off some events that gave them a bunch of golds.
However, he also said that there is another factor that made his new role even "doubly challenging."
"This is doubly made challenging considering that we are in a pandemic right now. It's still touch and go at this moment, because I really feel that without the vaccine, it's pretty hard to prepare our athletes the normal way for such a big international competition," Fernandez added.
The COVID-19 pandemic stalled many sports events and training for most of last year, hampering the athletes' preparations for the SEA Games and more especially the Olympics.
The first batch of COVID-19 vaccines are expected to arrive by February, but athletes from three sports are set to resume their training this weekend inside a bubble at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba ahead of the Olympic qualifiers.
Nevertheless, Fernandez believes that everything he learned from Ramirez when he and the other PSC commissioners were tasked to help him in the 2019 SEAG will be put into practice with his turn now.
"I've learned a lot from Chairman Butch Ramirez last SEA Games when he was chef de mission," Fernandez said.
He remained mum when he was asked about his target number of golds for the Philippines this year, but he vowed, "We will do our best."
"I'm pretty sure the POC and the NSA's together with the PSC, PAGCOR, and our friends in both the House [of Representatives] and the Senate are very supportive of our sports programs,.... I really believe that the budget and the preparation for the athletes are the keys to this, " he further said.
In gratitude, he said, "I'd like to thank President Bambol Tolentino and the executive board of the POC for the confidence and trust by giving me this appointment."
Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno