Monday, December 30, 2013

Fair Play: A college scholarship through patintero

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Dec. 31 issue)
IN A time when kids have gadgets left and right, and are busy with their online lives, the Cebu City Sports Commission has come up with a unique way to get them active. By promoting the Pinoy games that those who grew up with no cellphones, tablets or the Internet played with while growing up.

Is it a stupid plan?

I think not and I even think it’s a brilliant idea to get kids active.

A lot has been said and written, about the selfie generation and their lack of physical activity, aside from searching for the remote, and this move might prevent the next teenagers from adopting a sedentary lifestyle, one devoid of sports.

By encouraging them to get active, early, the next generation of teenagers might learn the value of getting active, early.

And, of course, just like what they do in their other programs, promoting Pinoy games is just the “means to an end.”

The quest for the world records in chess and archery were aimed to spread both niche sports to a wider base. The promotion of Pinoy Games, according to the indefatigable CCSC chairman Ed Hayco, is meant to discover the next stars of athletics.

I really like how the CCSC chairman thinks and Cebu is lucky to have one who not only thinks outside the box but disregards that darn box!

How would games like patintero (called tubiganay where I grew up), tumba lata, Chinese garter, shatong and the rest of the Pinoy games mold the next generation of track stars?

Well, it all involves running, throwing things and jumping. They also improve hand-eye coordination and field awareness that coaches search for in a raw talent.

I’ve met a lot of parents who are starting to worry about their kids’ college education and I always told them, if your kids don’t have the brains for an academic scholarship, then let them try out for an athletic scholarship.

“But my kids don’t play basketball, or football, or chess or can’t swim to save his life. What can they do?”

And my reply is always the same.

They can run, throw things or jump, right? Then let them try out for the track and field team as anyone born without physical disabilities has the basic tool to be a track star. It’s just a matter of molding raw talent if they have it.

“But my kids don’t have proper training in those things!” they’d say.

It doesn’t matter. Let them try out. How would you know they have that raw talent if they don’t?

Take the case of Mary Joy Tabal, the new women’s record holder of the Milo Marathon national finals.

When she first won the Cebu City leg of the Milo Marathon in 2010, Joy told Sun.Star Cebu reporter Iste Leopoldo that she got her start in track and field by joining the school intramurals. Sans proper outfit (she was wearing a skirt), she won the 100-meter dash and got invited to join the school’s track and field team.

She got five years’ worth of athletic scholarship in one of the top schools in Cebu, and from a short-distance runner, she is now one of the best marathoners in the country.

Her latest feat earned her a cool P270,00—P250,000 for winning the Milo event and P20,000 for breaking the records. Of course, that’s aside from the thousands of pesos in the regular fun runs.

All of these were made possible because she took that first step all those years ago.

If you want your kid to be the next Joy Tabal, you should pay attention to what the CCSC is doing and maybe, let your kid join the Pinoy Games program.

Let him or her take that first step.

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