WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Move the body, move that heart

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/02 April) – The 2012 Summer Sports Program at the Ateneo Matina runs from April 9 to 28. This year, with former Philippines Sports Commissioner William I. Ramirez back in harness as University Athletics Director, the long-running annual sports clinic is shaping up to be the new standard for summer sports programs in the country.

This month’s offering is the first project in the convergence Mr. Ramirez and I have hammered out between the Athletics Department and the Center of Psychological Extension and Research Services. We at COPERS welcome the opportunity to use sports psychology for character development the Blue Knight way.

Beyond learning the technical skills that would enable the child to compete, it has long been recognized that the rules of the game can teach a child healthy aspects of motivation, impulse control, emotional regulation, frustration management, focus, mastery, and concentration. It also enhances his capability for leadership, teamwork, endurance, self-discipline, and dignity in adversity.

When Mr. Ramirez broached the subject of COPERS coming in with interventions to strengthen the summer sports program, he got me with these words: “First, we must speak to the heart of the child.”

It made me think of the child I had been who ran and ran and ran on the wings of second wind. For a spirited while in my youth, the only medals I got were for track events. Yes, I do know about the heart of the child.

Late last week, the COPERS team sat down with the coaches to work out how they could infuse character development with the venue of play as therapy. This pilot program is probably the first in the country that would feature the involvement of psychologists in support of the coaches. Conceived by this icon in Philippine sport, ADDU’s very own William Ramirez does us the honor of partnering with us on this mission to work the heart and mind as the body gets a workout.

At the assembly last week in preparation for the opening of the Summer Sports Clinic, the COPERS team was most impressed to note that the Athletics Department has on its bench a fine line up of coaches for football, basketball, volleyball, dance sport, martial arts, table tennis and chess.

According to Mark Samante who assists Mr. Ramirez on this program, the coaches handling the 2012 Summer Sports Program is a good mix of seasoned and neophyte coaches, several of whom have championship trophies tucked under their belts.

There is, for example, veteran Henry Asilum who has guided his grade school basketball team to the top position more years than we care to count. Coach Henry is using the summer clinic to prepare himself to steer his winning team during the DAVRAA Meet 2012 in Compostela soon.

Coach Miggy Solitaria returns to the stomping ground of his youth. An alumnus of the very successful Ateneo Basketball program where he was a mainstay from his elementary days until he went to college, Miggy joins several other coaches from the high school and college units of the ADDU.

Football, which already has an impressive array of licensed coaches who have made their mark in local and national tournaments, welcomes the Philippine Football Federation Grassroots Program chief coach Albert Ryan Lim. Coach Thomas Deeg from Germany, fondly known as Ang Bicolanong German, promises to infuse in his wards the discipline and enthusiasm for football, even as he is quite wary of the need for his coaching to incorporate this obscure idea of play therapy and sports psychology.

Other notable coaches already in the fold are World Champion Master Steve Grandeza and dance sport coach Dennis Bunayog who is a joy to behold when he moves to a Latin beat.

His former wards would be happy to know that coach Mario Mojica will be leading the volleyball program, ready to spit out those scintillating strings of colorful words that have inspired many of them to perform their best under his eagle eyes.

For parents out there who are still figuring out how to make the summer go faster for your kids, please bring them to us. We don’t just make sports champions. We make champions with a heart. (Gail Ilagan heads the Center of Psychological Extension and Research Services at the Ateneo de Davao University. For comments, email her at gail@mindanews.com.)