MANILA, Philippines — For countless times, the pint-sized Chino Mulingtapang has been mistaken to be one of the competing athletes of the Philippine short track speed skating team.
Yes, he plays a vital role in the national squad. But no, he won't be competing.
In the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, the 18-year-old Mulingtapang takes on a task that many would find too heavy for his young age.
And it goes in two words: head coach.
"I ended up with the coaching job because I really wanted to help the team," shared Mulingtapang in an interview with Rappler.
"Coaching is a very hard job and it gets stressful but it's also fun."
With Mulingtapang calling the shots for a newly established but well-prepared Philippine team, the squad is ready to glide its way into snatching 6 medals in the speed skating events. (READ: PH speed skating team all set to sizzle on ice)
Coaching has no age
Mulingtapang admitted he is also new to the sport, but this didn't discourage him from accepting the job.
"The federation saw the potential in him so they appointed him as our head coach for the SEA Games," shared team captain Anna Lourdes Cruz.
Despite being younger than most of the players, Mulingtapang is grateful for the athletes as they treat him with respect despite his age.
"The players are disciplined. Inside the rink, a coach is a coach and a player is a player. But outside, I acknowledge them as my ates and kuyas (older sisters and brothers)," Mulingtapang said.
While others criticize Mulingtapang, who's just a senior high school, he keeps his focus on the positives and the team's goal to secure podium finishes this year.
"I just ignore those [criticisms]. I don't listen to what other people say, I just go on, do my job, and always think positive."
The short track speed skating team shoots for gold-medal finishes in the men and women's relays, 500m, and 1000m events on December 3 at the SM Mega Mall Skating Rink. — Rappler.com