Mindanao dragon boat teams seen to shine

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/03 May)—The newly-formed Mindanao dragon boat teams competing here in the first Mindanao dragon boat festival show a lot of promise, event organizers observed on Saturday.

The two-day competition was dubbed “Mayor Rody Duterte and Vice Mayor Pulong Duterte Club Crew Challenge.”

“The event has been successful and the best part is we’ve seen four teams compete against seasoned national teams. We see a promising start for the teams in Mindanao which reached the finals,” said Clarice Jane Calolot, event organizer of the Davao Dragon Boat Association.

“With the support that we got, the event became a success considering that it’s our first time to host such an event. After this event, we would be focusing on the training of existing and emerging teams from Davao and hopefully there would be a much bigger event next year,” she said.

The first dragon boat team from Mindanao, Butuan City’s Father Saturnino Urios University (FSUU) Blue Dragons gave the best performance among the Mindanao teams, gaining their way to the finals and beating several seasoned national teams.

“We’ve gone a long way since we started back in 2012. With the intensive training, the team has gained more skill. They are much more polished and the determination to compete against veteran national and international teams is high. So far our efforts have paid off and hopefully will push their skills more for bigger competitions,” said Fr. Chito Butardo, FSUU vice president and the team’s founder.

3_Davao dragonboat (2)web FSUU’s Blue Dragons gives out their best during the 400 meters open finals to garner 3rd place during the Mindanao 1st Dragon Boat Festival in Davao City from May 1-4. MindaNews photo by Erwin Mascarinas
The FSUU Blue Dragons got an overall ranking of 2nd runner up in the men’s open, 3rd runner up in the women’s open and 3rd runner up in the mixed category. For specific events, the team garnered the bronze in the Men’s 2000 meters, Men’s 400 meters and Women’s 400 meters.

Arjun’a Actub, team captain of Iligan City’s Team Bakunawa, expressed his enthusiasm in competing for the event.

“We were just formed last June out of curiosity for the sport. We never got any formal training, we just got inspired watching national teams gaining recognition and awards in the international scene in dragon boat racing. We know we lacked experience and we don’t expect to win, but being in this event is already a big honor for us who started with just a dream,” said Actub.

Actub said the team came from a small fishing community in Barangay Galipuga.

“We started with just four people and built our own boat to practice. Now we are 26 and we have given our best to gain recognition,” said Actub.

Team Bakunawa went on to conquer third place and won the bronze in the 200 meters open finals.

But the wildcard in the competition was a team from Davao City that was barely a month old.

Team Minokawa expressed their concerns early in the competition for not being able to practice on the water.

“We have never tried practicing on a dragon boat. We are barely a month old and we just did our practice on land. With the short training that we had, we introduced a special program that hopefully would help our team. Our team consists of athletes from different fields of sport, and hopefully this would be our advantage together with our special training,” said Bill Jotham Cacho, the team’s trainer.

Team Minokawa, amidst their lack of training in the water, reached the semi-finals in almost all the categories and 4th place in the finals of the open 400 meters.

Team Naga from Lanao del Sur performed dismally and left the competition early due to lack of funds for food and accommodation. (Erwin Mascarinas/MindaNews)