FUELED by passion and desire to bring glory to the country, the Cebu-based Philippine Accessible Disability Services Inc. (Pads) Adaptive Dragon Boat team will try to add another feather to its cap in the IDBF 13th Club Crew World Championships set from July 18 to 26, 2022 in Sarasota Florida, USA.

Nearly three years ago, the paradragon boat team made history when it captured two gold medals in the International Dragon Boat Federation-Dragon Boat World Championship in Pattaya, Thailand.

After that triumph in 2019, the team continued to soar, however, sports events were suddenly halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Pads paddlers are now back on their feet and have been training rigorously since May 2022. The paddlers practice twice a day, six days a week for the upcoming international stint.

“We make sure that the spiritual and mental preparation of each athlete [is] aligned with our goals. We wanted to maintain high morale and confidence coming to the world championships,” team manager John Paul Maunes said in a virtual interview with SunStar Cebu.

“We are truly blessed to be under the guidance of a great coach under the brilliant mind of Coach Ailene Padrones of the Philippine Air Force PAFCMOG through the endorsement of the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation (PDBF),” he added.

Pads is also assisted and monitored by sports medical officer Dr. Bong Adorable in partnership with the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center.

Padrones said that by representing the Philippines, the team can bring pride and glory to the country. They want to show the world that Filipinos excel in dragon boat racing.

Paddlers put their best foot forward in training, waking up as early as 4 a.m. for the first round of training. They train again after work at 5 p.m.

One of the challenges the team faces is the lack of funds.

“We sent letters already to Cebu City Government, Talisay City [and] Lapu-Lapu City but we still have to get their response,” Maunes said.

He added that they are in debt just to sustain their needs for transportation expenses. Maunes appealed to the local government units of Cebu and national agencies to support them in their upcoming battle.

The team’s rookie paddler, Police Staff Sergeant Sidney de Jesus Alisoso, 34, from Talisay City, said that because of what happened to him, he was drawn closer to Pads and was given the opportunity to join the team as a paddler.

Alisoso lost his leg after he was shot during a buy-bust operation.

He said that before the shooting incident, he was an athletic person, so losing his leg deprived him of doing any other sports.

Team captain and one of the pioneers of the dragon boat team Arnold “Kap A” Balais said that being physically challenged is “not a reason to stop doing your passion.”

Maunes called on differently-abled individuals who are afraid to show their abilities in sports to come out.

“There are good people who are willing to help. If Pads can make it, you can also do it. This is the new normal. Gone are the days, we still hide under the shadows of our own disability. Come out in the open. Go out there and play,” Maunes said.