Mindanao Friendship Games to push through in December

The announcement from Sports for Peace Mindanao Inc. ended speculations that the sports for peace program aimed at helping secure peace and promote Mindanao as land of prosperity was dead after a long absence and the abolition of PSC Mindanao office.

“We will have the Mindanao Friendship Games by December as one of the activities of the Sports for Peace Mindanao this year,” said Ramirez in an interview.

He said the all-year round activities of the Sports for Peace Mindanao will culminate with the staging of the MFG.

The event had sent a strong message of peace in the region in 2001, 2002 and 2003 but was scrapped in the calendar of the PSC in 2004 reportedly due to funding shortage, he added

The MFG was launched in Tubod, Lanao del Norte in 2001, a year after the "all-out war" against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) erupted in the municipality of Kauswagan of the same province. The war eventually spread to other parts of the island where there was MILF presence.

This year’s schedule of the Sports for Peace Mindanao kicks off with the staging of the Archdiocese of Davao-Sports for Peace event from April 27-29 at the St. Francis Xavier College Seminary.

It will be followed by the sports for peace logo and songwriting contests which will culminate on April 30 at NCCC Mall.

After the two events, the Sports for Peace Mindanao will shift its focus to the holding of the Inter-faith Games and second Mindanao Children’s Games in May and October, respectively.

“These are all for the children of Mindanao…Christians, Muslims, and the Lumads," Ramirez said.

The revival of the MFG was discussed during the Mindanao Sports Summit 2008 organized by the PSC which was then under Ramirez.

"The MFG can put us together in one place and play despite our differences in religion, culture and status," Ramirez said in his speech during the summit.

"In MFG, no one bothers to ask your religion or status. We just play and develop camaraderie and friendship through sports." 

According to the MFG charter, the fundamental principles of the games are developing champions for talent identification to the national pool, sporting brotherhood for Christians, Muslims and Lumads and sharing culture.

"The MFG not only offers competition and development but endeavors to give similar benefit to a Mindanaoan by adopting a culture from one place, integrating positive values of one cultural characteristic," it added. (Rico Biliran/MindaNews)