PLAIN AND SIMPLE| Finding gold

FOR BUTCH Ramirez, chair of the Philippine Sports Commission, the Olympic gold is really developing the young to be productive and responsible citizens of the country.

Not only this, Butch wants to sustain what he started years back – sports as a vehicle for peace. And Children’s Game is a strong component of it.

Late in 2000, he gathered a few friends who believed in sports as a powerful weapon for peace. In partnership with Notre Dame of Midsayap and Sports for Peace Mindanao, Inc organized the sports for peace activity with the children caught in the war in that area.

It was a five-day sporting event where children caught in the crossfire in North Cotabato came to play with other children. The Sports for Peace Mindanao, Inc with Notre Dame prepared the activities with the support of the Philippine Sports Commission headed by Butch at that time.

Fr Romy Saniel, then president of Notre Dame Midsayap, and his team took charge of gathering the children in those conflict areas. His school housed the children and his counseling team with some psychologists from PSC took charge of group dynamics.

The SFPMI, where I was the executive director, collaborated with Fr Romy’s team and ensured that Muslim and Christian children were together to enjoy the different sporting events.

PSC chair Ramirez provided the logistics and brought with the best coaches in those various sporting events. He also brought the Manila media so they will see the realities on the ground especially in Cotabato.

So the children played, enjoyed the company of each other and celebrated their youth in the various talents God gifted them. For five days, the children learned the basics of their respective events from their mentors. They had sessions on the importance of play as children and what it meant to be children freely playing in their youth.

After the five-day sports for peace, they gathered in the gym of Notre Dame to celebrate their friendship, their talents, and their youthful exuberance. Sports was life for them. Sports was a vehicle for peace for the children.

To close the sports for peace activities, they sang, danced and shared food and thoughts. One Muslim girl said  “chairman and Fr Saniel, pwede man diay ta magdula dula.  She made the people around ponder in silence with those words.

Those around were then members of the board of the Sports for Peace NGO, the administrators of Notre Dame and top ranked military personnel in their civilian clothes and Bishop Bagaforo.

It was an event that left a mark among the children of North Cotabato. And this activity will be held in Davao City this summer.

Posted in Opinion