PH equestrian needs change
I WAS part of a group that included officers of the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) that had lunch with Equestrian Philippines Inc. (EquestrianPH) president Carissa Coscoluella and national athlete Toni Leviste.
Venue was KAI in Greenbelt 5 and it was a very frank discussion, no off-the-record talks about the present situation of equestrian in the Philippines.
Just to clarify, EquestrianPH is different from the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) recognized Equestrian Association of the Philippines (EAP) headed by former POC chief Peping Cojuangco, who, according to reports, also heads the newly formed ice hockey group.
If we are to base it on activities undertaken by EquestrianPH and EAP, it is obvious that the Coscoluella-led association is the more active group with a lot of events already under its wings.
The EAP, sorry to say, has not done as much as the other group. I do not hear nor read anything about the EAP and its programs.
According to Coscoluella though, the EAP, the national sports association for equestrian, is doing just the minimum to meet the requirement of its international federation.
As I see it, EquestrianPH is doing what the EAP should be doing as an NSA.
The biggest advantage of EquestrianPH is that it is self funding and does not rely solely on the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) to hold its programs.
Also, all the senior riders of the country like Leviste, Joker Arroyo and Colin Syquia, plus the up and coming riders like Paola Lorenzo, Nicole Camcam, Minxie Romualdez, Alex Villalon and Lara Zobel are all with EquestrianPH and not with EAP.
Last year, according to Coscoluella, EAP tried to stop them from holding an inter-club meet with a Malaysian equestrian group. The EAP questioned the right of EquestrianPH to hold such an event. Peping’s group even wrote the international federation to prevent the event from happening at the Manila Polo Club.
The Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) eventually allowed the inter-club meet to push through because it did not see any violation committed by EquestrianPH.
The EAP then tried to sanction riders if they compete in the other group’s events but it did not stop Filipino riders from competing.
The EAP even questioned the use of the word “Philippines” in Coscoluella’s group to which Carissa replied, “We are from the Philippines and we are Filipinos, why are we not allowed to use ‘Philippines’ in our group?”
Although Coscoluella is a member of the EAP Board, she has limited power and her voice is not even heard because when it is time to divide the house, Peping always has the number.
Now this situation has led to a lot of uncertainties definitely.
For one, if it is true that Peping is moving to ice hockey, his daughter Mikee will succeed him being the vice president of EAP. And if so, will there be a change in the situation with the sport? Will there be an opportunity for Coscoluella to be heard? After all, EquestrianPH is already doing its share to promote and develop the sport in the country.
The EAP enjoys the recognition of the IF and the POC. It also enjoys the support from the PSC although I heard that the group still has not liquidated the funds it received from the PSC from years back.
The PSC, meanwhile, gives its support directly to the athletes, even those belonging to EquestrianPH.
Because of unliquidated fund releases, the EAP cannot request for more funds from the PSC.
EquestrianPH, on the other hand, recently paid a courtesy call to PSC chairman Butch Ramirez to present its past and future programs, including the two overall championships won by the Philippines over Malaysia in the dual meets held here and in Malaysia.
Coscoluella said Ramirez promised to support the group but since EquestrianPH is still not the NSA, it would give its support directly to the athletes. Of course, that’s fine with Coscoluella.
I asked Coscoluella and Leviste directly whether they will again contest the EAP’s top position in the future.
On her part, Toni said she does not want to fight anymore. She just wants the sport to grow in the country and find new talents. They are, after all, not getting younger. Actually, Toni had planned to retire many years ago but without a program from the EAP to find new athletes she has been called to duty and represent the country in international meets.
At 46, Toni has one of the longest record as a national athlete in an Olympic sport, and the truth is, the passion for the sport continues to burn within her.
Carissa, meanwhile, said that being the president of the NSA is not a motivation for her. Whatever happens, their group will make sure that the sport of equestrian moves forward. She is fed up with the “politics” in sports and wants to focus her energy in promoting the sport in the grassroots level.
Next month, there will be a general assembly for EAP but then it does not look promising for Coscoluella and Leviste as Peping had the group under tight control, including limiting the number of regular voters, and making sure that his group will always outnumber the opposition.
I can only wish Carissa and Toni the best of luck in their efforts to turn things around for equestrian. They are not alone in this fight.
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