(From left to right) Founder and convener of the Mindanao Peace Games Coach Noli Ayo, Philippine Olympians Association President Akiko Thomson-Guevarra, and Palawan State University Sports Director Vince Esguerra

The Online Sports Leadership Program (OSLP) brings the true stories of Filipino Olympians closer to sports leaders and athletes as it opens the eighth batch of the national summit in Puerto Princesa in October.

Coach Noli Ayo, founder and convener of the Mindanao Peace Games, said that the OSLP pushes to inspire athletes and leaders in sports. Aside from sharing stories, the OSLP also aims to widen the linkages and networking in the sports industry.

The eight OSLP will be hosted by Palawan State University (PSU) in a hybrid setup in October, which is a culmination of batches from first to eighth. On August 11 and 12, Ayo and the president of the Philippine Olympians Association, Akiko Thomson-Guevarra, went to the university to look around. They did this to prepare for the national summit.

“Lalo na sa panahon ngayon, where the truth is masked with lies, and lies are accepted as truth. The more we need truthful storytellers, the more we want to make sure that the program of ours will nurture true stories of the finest of Filipino men and women who excel in sports and also inspire enough for youth,” he said.

The OSLP started in 2020 during the height of the pandemic and was conducted online for participants nationwide. The eighth and final batch of the OSLP national summit will have a series of seminars and breakout sessions.

Ayo said that Olympians sharing their stories will be helpful, especially since the number of online trolls and the spread of false information is on the rise.

“I am hoping that at this OSLP summit, you just don’t see a summit. You see an opportunity to make your world bigger,” he added.

The story of Lydia de Vega-Mercado, Asia’s sprint queen in the ’80s, who recently passed away, will also be included in the OSLP podcast on Spotify along with other Filipino Olympians.

Guevarra mentioned that four Olympians are sharing their stories every batch with over 400 Filipino Olympians in the country.

“We included para-Olympians and they share their journey in sports, highs and lows and everything. We share in a small group of participants, 16 per batch, and all of them are from various institutions, schools, NGOs, and coaches around the country,” she said.

Ayo sees the challenge in having true storytellers, particularly nowadays as “as a nation, we forget.” The OSLP wants its participants to also value the stories of the finest men and women in sports and will not be forgotten.

Guevarra, a three-time Olympian and multiple South East Asian (SEA) games medalist in swimming, believes that sharing their sports journey will give athletes and sports leaders confidence and encouragement in what they are doing.

“Sayang lang, rich experience to share—it’s a sleeping giant, sayang lang. It’s there, sayang lang, if we don’t share it and pass,” she said.


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