Sports and lifestyle retailer MAP Active Philippines, through its banner brand New Balance, announced its 2021 advocacy entitled #WeGotNowPH during a virtual press conference on Tuesday.
New Balance’s advocacy highlights stories of Filipino perseverance in spite of the many challenges the global health crisis has put forth. Part of its advocacy will see the global athletics brand donate more than P2 million worth of brand new basketball shoes to underserved but deserving communities nationwide.
The virtual presser was attended by several officials of MAP Active Philippines, including country manager Mark Cristi, marketing director Sugar Meneses, marketing manager Mishka Rafael.
New Balance also announced its “pandemic heroes” namely JRU men’s basketball head coach Louie Gonzalez, former URCC Flyweight Champion, Geli Bulaong and Ateneo de Davao athletic director, Coach Noli Ayo, who they described as exemplary, pandemic heroes who have all risen to the occasion and continued to push the envelope for sports and their causes despite the challenges brought about by the pandemic.
“This pandemic held sports to a standstill,” said Meneses. “However, our sports community have shown great resilience and grit to keep optimistic and productive despite the challenges and took action to progress it in their own creative ways. The #WeGotNow PH Advocacy is dedicated to our sports community who have been proactive and made a positive contribution for sports and for their causes. By sharing the stories of our #WeGotNow PH heroes, we hope that others will take on the challenge of trying to make the most of the moment to make a difference for good.”
For Gonzalez, the pandemic was a chance to march forward and continue to teach the game of basketball.
"This pandemic did not stop me from imparting my knowledge to other trainers and coaches. By pushing basketball related content out, I was able to encourage fellow coaches to be positive and see the situation as an opportunity to improve and plan", said Gonzalez.
"I stepped up hoping that in my own little way, I could inspire these trainers and coaches and at the same time, encourage them to be there for their family and athletes who need them most. We need to engage and connect with each other; to fight anxiety by promoting an active lifestyle through home workouts and training."
“As a result, coaches responded and were able to create programs for their fellow coaches in their respective communities, multiplying our efforts. They were also able to expand their respective networks, teaching new basketball coaching and training techniques.”
Meanwhile, Bulaong, who is a former URCC Flyweight Champion and a “Fight to Protect” ambassador, has stepped up her game and her efforts in the pandemic, aiding four-time world jiujitsu champion Meggie Ochoa on their advocacy to fight for the end of child sexual violence through sports through their advocacy, Fight To Protect.
Fight To Protect is a movement launched in 2018, which nurses child victims, orphans, and survivors of sexual violence and online sexual abuse and introduces them to combat sports particularly jiujitsu and more recently, muay thai.
Lastly, Ayo, Ateneo de Davao University Athletics Director, still found ways to keep the momentum of sports going by creating spaces for athletes, coaches, sports leaders and experts to connect and learn from each other during the pandemic.
He started regular learning sessions every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday very early on in the pandemic, in an initiative he aptly encapsulated in the acronym MWF—a forum he later called Moving Wonders Forward.
“When the lockdowns came and removed physical interaction, I just found a way through technology to nurture our human connections once again,” said Ayo. “I wanted to provide more access to knowledge and expertise to our sports community. And thanks to technology and better relationships between leaders, there has been more willingness to share each other’s time, expertise and resources via online platforms.”
Since its inception, Ayo has seen the MWF’s impact ripple in the sports community through similar initiatives made by the close to 200 regular attendees of the learning sessions. Ayo himself has gone on to lead dozens of online sports leadership projects such as the virtual Mindanao Peace Games Leadership Summit for Athletes, the online coaching programs for the newly created Bangsamoro Sports Commission, the Online Sports Leadership Program with the Philippine Olympians Association, online leadership programs with different LGUs and NSAs, and even a soon to be launched book containing a collection of thoughts and reflections from notable coaches, athletes and sports leaders in Philippine sports.
“Honestly, I only continued with what we have already been doing in Mindanao—connecting kindred individuals through sports,” he shares. (JNP)