Young chess player’s ‘airport’ story clarified

Young chess champion Bince Rafael Operiano never slept at the airport for three days before he competed at the 6th Eastern Asia Youth Chess Championship in Bangkok, Thailand.

Philippine Sports Commission chairman Noli Eala said he will invite Bince Rafael Operiano and his parents for discussion.

This was learned by Philippine Sports Commission chairman Noli Eala after he closely into the situation involving the nine-year-old Operiano during the tournament, which was held from Nov. 4 to 13.

Eala found out there was a lot of inaccurate information forwarded to authorities in the kid’s home province in Albay, concerning funding support when the boy returned home to Manila at the end of the chessfest with the rest of the delegation.

This will be sorted out once the government sports agency summons the young Bince and his parents for some talks.

“The overwhelming victory of Bince Rafael Operiano in the 6th Eastern Asia Youth Chess Championship held in Bangkok, Thailand is remarkable. We recognize Bince’s potential and are grateful for all his sacrifices to achieve what he has. It has, however, come to our attention that Bince encountered logistical problems during his participation in the said event. Given this, we are inviting Bince and his parents to the PSC to discuss how we can assist in nurturing his talent and help him achieve more,” said Eala in a statement.

There were allegations that lack of money forced Bince and his father, Ben Operiano, to spend three nights at the airport, sleeping on the benches as they waited for their plane tickets sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

National Chess Federation of the Philippines CEO Jayson Gonzales also denied this in an interview with the Manila Standard, and after they discussed the matter concerning the Philippine delegation to Thailand.

“Itong mga sinasibang hindi tinulungan at natulog sa airport ng tanlong araw, ay hindi totoo. Dahil may schedule and tournament ng mga bata,” said Gonzales following his meeting with agency officials.

Gonzales said it is not possible for the boy and any members of the delegation to sleep elsewhere since the PSC has approved funding, even if it was delayed.

“The flight was delayed. They arrived at dawn on a Cebu Pacific flight, two hours before the tournament. They had a guardian, Edmundo Gatus. Paano makatulo nang talong araw sa airport kung may laro na sila,” added Gonzales.

The agency was able to provide the delegation with enough funds for their campaign, according to Gonzales, and the kid was among the 24 woodpushers whom they recommended to be supported.

Gonzales explained that the PSC only supports members of the national team when they compete in international meets.

The NCFP as the PSC provides funding support for 24 kids, including Operiano, even though they are not part of the national pool.

“National team lang dapat may pondo. Pero pinagbigyan tayo (sa kanila),” added Gonzales.

Eala is seeking more accurate information on the woodpushers in Bangkok, and he hopes how it can be possible to help young players like Operiano.

“The PSC is here to assist our athletes within the bounds of existing policies and guidelines. We are also coordinating with the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP)S to discuss what assistance has been given by the NCFP to Bince so far, and how their NSA and the PSC can partner to further develop this gifted athlete,” added Eala .

Gonzales said there are young players who won more medals than Operiano, who collected one, 1 silver, and 2 bronzes, and they needed to be recognized.

Among the most prolific Filipino players in the tournament was Elle Castronuevo (Imus, Cavite), who had three individual gold medals in the under-8 girls.

There was also Cagayan de Oro’s Ruelle Canino, with four golds in the under-14 girls. April Joy Claros of Angeles also had four golds in the under-16 girls.

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