A couple of years ago in my beloved Medellín I was enjoying a sunny Sunday morning in May on the Avenida el Poblado bike lane, right in the park where the commemorative plaque of the foundation of the capital of the paisas 4 centuries is located behind.
And what was my disappointment when a group of athletes from the Colombian Underwater Rugby Team approached me, asking for support to be able to travel to Austria to represent our country in the world championship of the discipline. Disappointment to see that history was repeating itself once again: athletes without funding to participate in events and of course much less to be able to train properly and worse still, without funding for their basic needs as individuals and as elite athletes.
A light of hope opened in my mind, a few days before (just on the holiday May 1, 2019) we had managed to approve in plenary session of the House of Representatives the creation of the Tax Scholarships for Athletes program, which was consigned in the Law 1955 of 2019 and that has just been regulated through Presidential Decree 985 of this year.
Thus begins a new era for national sport in which it is intended that our athletes who have represented the country at the international level or their department, municipality or club at the national level (including school and intercollegiate games SUPÉRATE) can apply for one of these scholarships that include maintenance, that is, comprehensive support for your life project. Initially, these scholarships may be assigned to athletes in the child, junior or youth categories and of course include both athletes with disabilities and those of conventional sports.
The program contains the study scholarship and the great novelty is the inclusion of all maintenance concepts among them: housing, food and transportation to attend studies and training; indicated food supplementation; sports implementation and required uniforms; air, land or river transportation, accommodation and food during competitions and accident insurance. In other words, as a father or a mother does today, who assume with all their filial love this onerous burden as far as possible, turning this economic limitation into an insurmountable obstacle for the vast majority of our athletes who thus see their possibilities truncated. to continue training properly and much less to travel to compete and represent the country.
The program has no general budget limit. Each athlete will have their individualized program and the government, in technical alliance with the Olympic and Paralympic system, will determine the scope and goals of the program and the selection of beneficiaries through the operating regulations. Undoubtedly, this represents a large amount of money in support of our athletes, which will be contributed directly (in kind or cash) by income or complementary taxpayers (individuals or legal entities) who will be deducted directly from their income statement on 100% of the amount contributed and may allocate up to 30% of the total annual tax to be paid. Individual agreements will be signed between the taxpayer, the athlete and the Ministry of Sport, which will contain the annual training plan, competitions and their academic program. MinDeporte will be in charge of supervising the proper execution of the schedule, that the investments are made properly and of issuing the certificate so that the taxpayer can apply the discount in his income statement.
This is the first step to go from a sport accustomed to begging to having some athletes supported in their life project in an integral way and who will be able to advance their studies and train and compete with guaranteed financing, just as students have it- athletes from first world countries.
Those of rugby had a happy ending, the tricolor rugby representation was able to travel and win the women’s bronze medal in October and the men’s gold medal at the World Cup in October 2019: world champions with a perfect campaign and keeping the fence unbeaten throughout length of the championship. They beat Spain 15-0, Slovakia 25-0, Canada 29-0, Finland 4-0, Denmark 1-0 and Norway 2-0 in the final. Can you imagine if they had the proper support.
I am convinced that we are going to improve exponentially and in a short term the sports results at an international level, today more than ever by supporting our athletes: the best ambassadors of Colombia before the world and sure that by transforming lives through sport we will be able to contribute to transform ourselves into a better society, where citizens and particularly young people and children have options and opportunities to grow in the best way and what better way than studying and practicing sports with all the guarantees.
The future is hopeful.