By Jean Malanum

PADEL. Senator Pia Cayetano (left), president of Padel Pilipinas, enjoys a friendly game with secretary-general Duane Santos in this undated photo. The Philippine Olympic Committee has recently recognized Padel Pilipinas as the national sports association in padel sport. (Contributed photo)

MANILA – The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) has recognized Padel Pilipinas as the country’s official padel federation.

“We are happy to receive the trust and support of the POC, the governing body of all National Sports Associations (NSAs) in the Philippines,” Padel Pilipinas secretary-general Duane Santos said in a press statement on Tuesday.

“Under Senator Pia Cayetano’s leadership and our team of Filipino coaches, we are committed to prioritizing a grassroots padel program in the country. We will continue to bring the sport closer to more Filipinos,” added Duane, who is a national champion just like his brother Derrick.

Cayetano, a known sports advocate, welcomed the recognition from the POC.

“I’ve always been a believer that sports is the great equalizer. Through sports, deserving kids can get a good education through scholarships. They get to meet, train with and compete against equally determined and talented individuals outside of their schools and hometowns. Sometimes they’ll win, sometimes they’ll lose. But as long as they get up, they’ll keep getting better. This builds character. It’s part of nation building,” she said.

Cayetano was a former University of the Philippines volleyball player. She was a member of the national team.

Meanwhile, in his letter to the International to the International Padel Federation, POC president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said, “Padel Pilipinas has been actively conducting clinics and trainings all over the country.”

“Likewise, the construction of public courts to ensure accessibility to all are underway. I am confident that through the consistent efforts and unwavering dedication of Padel Pilipinas, padel will continue to grow in our country, one locality at a time,” he added.

Padel Pilipinas is teaming up with local governments to promote the sport.

“We have been to places like Tarlac, Pampanga, Laguna and Batangas. Just this month, we were in Bataan and Aurora,” said coach Bryan Casao, who leads the training of padel beginners in the country. He earned a professional certificate from PadelMBA in Spain.

By holding clinics all over the country, Padel Pilipinas hopes to find potential talents who can represent the country in international tournaments.

”Through a talent identification program, Padel Pilipinas will nurture athletes’ potential and field the very best Filipino athletes in international competitions. The federation will also continue to forge international partnerships to learn from them and to elevate the game of padel in the country,” said Santos, who is ranked No. 36 in the Asia Pacific Padel Tour. Padel sport is a combination of squash and tennis. It is usually played in doubles on an enclosed court. (PNA)