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Sports for community action: DLSU Dasma and Japeri, Brazil

We were privileged to join De La Salle University-Dasmariñas (DLSU-D) president, Br Gus Boquer, FSC, and thousands of spectators at the inauguration of the newly renovated rubberized standard, seamless eight-lane track oval at the DLSU-D campus Thursday morning. With us in the inauguration of one of only three track ovals in Cavite were DLSU-D alumnus, movie actor, social activist-philanthropist and president of Kids Foundation, Diether (Diet) Ocampo; football icons Phil and James Younghusband; and the country’s former long jump queen, Elma Muros-Posadas.

Built at a cost of around P23 million (with another P9 million programmed for the soccer pitch which will eventually converted into artificial turf, thus transforming it to an international-caliber football field), the oval, which is strategically located in the University’s 27-hectare property. All its dimensions and surface properties meet the standards set by the International Association of Athletics Federations or IAAF.

DLSU-D sports officials proudly point out the features of the oval which is made of non-slip, non-static, high flexibility monomer chemicals. Among these are: easy to clean; fire and impact resistant; durable and can withstand wear and tear; all weather condition resistant; with ultra violet ray rejection properties and environment friendly.

The Younghusbands unveiled the symbolic marker of the track oval which was followed by the ceremonial run around the oval led by Muros-Posadas who even in her late 40’s is winning in international masters and veterans’ athletics tournaments. The popular Younghusbands held a football clinic that attracted hundreds of shrieking football fans and members of the Lasallian Football Club.

Br Gus happily points out the oval and the soccer field is the school’s contribution to sports development in the country and the CALABARZON region. The school’s athletic facilities are not only for the University’s students and student-athletes known as Patriots but are also meant to serve the wider community’s needs.

The first athletic event to be held in the newly refurbished track oval is the DLSU-D Jubilee Track and Field Meet. The kick-off was held after the football clinic and culminated the next day, Friday. Participating schools from the CALABARZON are Cavite State University-Main; De La Salle Lipa, Emilio Aguinaldo College –Dasmariñas; Lyceum University of the Philippines-Batangas, University of Perpetual Help System- Dalta, Biñan and DLSU-D. The Jubilee track meet is part of the University’s celebration of its 25th year as a Lasallian school and its 35th year as a higher education institution.

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During our two-hour visit to the campus, Br Gus spoke of the social responsibility initiatives being undertaken by individual DLSU-D graduates like Ocampo who has made it his mission, as president of Kids Foundation, to go around the entire archipelago distributing books to indigent children and public school libraries. We also discussed the work being done by the De La Salle Health Sciences Institute in the health and wellness areas particularly among the poor and marginalized.

The Institute is composed of three units which are the four colleges, the DLSU Medical Center and the Angelo King Medical Research Center. After several years of serving society, the Medical Center is now regarded as the country’s primary center for tuberculosis care and cure. It has been serving the needs of indigent patients in its charity clinic.

The University has become the retirement home of elderly De La Salle Brothers, no doubt due to its wide open spaces and environmentally friendly practices which has gained for it prestigious awards from government and private organizations.

Truly, the visit was literally and figuratively a refreshing one especially when one considers what the University is doing to help improve the condition of others. This brings to mind the work done by the Royal and Ancient (R&A) in putting up the Japeri public golf course in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Seventy to 100 kids show up daily to play golf. The kids who are from the poorest parts of Rio come to the course immaculately dressed. If they don’t attend classes, they can’t play. Writer Laura Walden says the program forces a discipline in the kids to go to school every day to better themselves to be educated to get out of where they are. The course was reduced from nine to six holes to give way to a road project but not without a fight put up by Club president Vicky Whyte who threatened “to lay down kids in the middle of the fairway if needed”.

The Japeri project is an integral part of Brazil’s build up for golf which was voted back into the Olympics in 2009. The Associated Press reports that there are fewer than 30,000 golfers in Brazil’s over 100 courses, all private and most with high green fees. Japeri charges just over US$10 for 18 holes on weekdays. Weekend prices are about US$30. Japeri residents can play for free on Mondays and for about US$3 the other days. Officials want to use the Olympic public course to help boost golf locally and develop it after the Games are gone.

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