(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Oct. 20 edition)
IF NOT for archery, I wouldn’t be an architect. That essentially what started the Cebu City Sports Commission’s romance with archery, a love story that has it all--sacrifice, hardship, disaster, resilience and finally, success.

During a party in 2012, Dondon Sombrio, a Southeast Asian Games gold medalist for archery, and Ed Hayco, a champion of grassroots sports, met. Sombrio, an architect and a product of the public school system of the country, told the commissioner how archery got him an athletic scholarship.

And the plan to set the world-record in archery was born. Over dinner.

The plan was simple. So simple you wonder why no one has ever thought of it before. Gather as many archers as you can.

The execution was difficult. So difficult that you wonder, what were Ed and Dondon thinking?

Because of CCSC’s two previous world-record attempts in dancesport and in chess, the group already had a template in how to go about this. Tap the public school teachers.

That’s where they encountered problem no. 1. In 2012, if you know a public school teacher who knows archery, then count yourself lucky. So to change that, they set a series of seminars. That’s where they met another problem, that would sire another problem.

You can’t teach archery without a bow and an arrow, and does P50,000 per bow sound palatable? That’s where the genious of Sombrio stepped in. He designed a bow made of PVC pipe that cost only P500. “Design” would probably not do justice to describe how Sombrio did it. I got a look of the final product and it’s a thing of beauty, and like all masterpieces, you wonder, “That’s made of PVC?”
That perfect curve and flat ends to tie the string? Like most masterpieces, it was a product of failure as the architect had six other designs before coming up with the perfect one.

After mass production, they started the seminars, and had in school training. They were all set for an October launch.

Then, the 7.2 earthquake happened and all things sports had to take a backseat. So, they postponed it to November and Typhoon Yolanda struck. If in our favorite sad love stories there are disapproving parents, it seemed in CCSC’s love story with archery, the odds were forever disapproving.

Postponed anew, and anew, as the city and CCSC got busy with the Sinulog, Cviraa, end of classes, a grassroots program during the summer. It seemed the move was forever canned.

But they pushed on. And on Oct. 17, 13,102 students from the different public schools set the record for the largest archery tournament and 745 set the record for the largest archery class.

To put that in perspective, the Philippine Archers National Network and Alliance has a pool of 2,000 archers. In one program, one city has increased that by six-folds.

Because of one man and his dream to pay the sport back for what it has given him.

Atty. Jesus Clint Aranas, the sec-gen of Panna, was so impressed he changed his outlook on grassroots. Before that, for him, grassroots in archery is nothing, but after seeing the scores of students, he said, “I am happy and proud to eat my words here in Cebu.”

He wants the project copied in the other cities but, the other countries may beat him to that.

Simon Wee, a member of the World Archery Asia council, will present CCSC’s achievement and tell other countries in Asia, “This is how you do it.”

That’s because of the vision of one man, whose mission isn’t even over yet.

Aside from holding monthly tournaments at the Cebu Sports Institute, he got an impromptu appointment as head of Panna’s grassroots program nationwide.

An apt reward for a man with a vision. A vision that started by wanting to “pay the sport forward” for the joys it brought him.


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