While some of the most recognizable athletes in the world are women such as Simone Biles of the USA gymnastics team or, in the Philippines, Hidilyn Diaz who ended the 20 year wait for a Philippine medal in the Olympics in 2016 consequently becoming the first Filipina to earn an olympic medal, women’s sports still lags behind men’s in almost all ways.

In line with this and with March being Women’s Month, the Women in Sports Commission (WiSC) of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) conducted Among Us: Celebrating Women Leaders in Sports.

Organized by the POC (WiSC), in partnership with Torch Training and Consulting, Among Us: Celebrating Women Leaders in Sports was a week-long event from March 20 to 27 aimed at not only further talking about the role of women in sports but also providing a platform for participants to be active agents of change. 

The participants were various women athletes, coaches, and officials from different NSAs.

The program’s end-goal was for the groups to put together project proposals aimed at furthering the progress of women in sports. The winning proposal would receive a Php 50,000-grant from the POC to achieve their goals.

POC president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino highlighted the importance of the event citing the various women athletes who qualified for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

“This forum is important especially this women’s month to further recognize women and girls in sport”, Tolentino said.

Tolentino also added that the Philippines is proud to send many Filipina athletes to the Olympics where the International Olympic Committee aims for an even 50-50 split between male and female athletes.

“God willing our first gold medal will be coming from a woman”, Tolentino added.

Participants were grouped together by conference facilitators under Torch Training & Consulting according to their vision for women’s sports prior to the event and they all listened to speakers such as Joanna Franquelli, Farhannah Pumbaya, Maria Manuella Lamorena, Rose Mae Lanticse, Ethyl Grace Awi,  and POC Athlete’s Commission Co-Chair Francesca Altomonte. Afterwards, they were given design thinking workshops to enlighten them in project proposal making.

The winning proposal aims at forming women’s commissions in every NSA. The group that presented the winning proposal aims at solving the problem of the “lack of policies and programs for the development of women thus limiting their opportunities and involvement within the NSAs”.

The winning group named Malakas at Maganda argued that women commissions in NSAs “will raise awareness on gender equality and protect the rights of women in the NSAs.”

As of now, there are only three NSAs with Women Commissions in place and so there is a need to impart the knowledge on why a women commission is needed and how to achieve the creation of one for NSAs.

Women commissions are important to further development for women in their respective sports, providing representation and putting forth programs to aid the progress of women in sports.

Facilitators such as Noli Ayo, Hilla Indigne, Krizanne Ty, Ada Milby and POC (WiSC) head Bong Coo were pleasantly surprised with how easily the participants, some of whom never met before, got along together and put forward so many diverse ideas.

“To go from ‘hello my name is’ to a fully concrete proposal one week later really just goes to show what women can do when they come together”, Philippine Rugby Football Union President Ada Milby said.

The Among Us team will continue to monitor the progress of the winning team for the next six months as they bring their proposal to life.

Among Us hopefully will continue post-pandemic as it not only teaches participants the problems facing women in sports but it also enables them to put forth their own ideas with funding from the Philippine Olympic Committee. Participants are given the opportunity to get their ideas off the ground.

While the Women in Sports Commission of the POC does a wonderful job, the ultimate aim is for it to become redundant. Women should be free to become coaches, athletes, and officials without comparison to men.

As for the future of the Among Us team who facilitated a successful event when asked if the program will continue: “Among Us two, three, four, forever”, said Bong Coo.

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