Mindanao schools hold sportsfest as means to push message of peace

Women empowerment. Peacebuilding. Transformational leadership.

As the 3rd season of Mindanao Peace Games (MPG) commenced on October 26, organizer and athletics director of Ateneo de Davao University Noli Ayo expressed optimism that the event has produced a positive outcome among the participating athletes and coaches alike.

Guesting in Habi at Kape media forum yesterday, Ayo stressed that one of the highlights of the peace games was the all-women sporting events which sought to bring the message of “breaking stereotypes” among its participants.

“When we (organizers) were discussing this (MPG) in 2014, we realized that women in sports are not given the equal opportunity [than] their male counterpart”, said Ayo adding that given the chance to invest in something worthwhile, might as well invest in the sector that needs it the most.

“In fact, 60 percent of the medallists in Rio Olympics are women,” stressed Ayo.

The athletics director also said that the initiative of empowering women has influenced other sporting bodies such as the Jesuit Athletic Meet whose members are some of those participating in MPG.

“If there will be more women in the middle, there will be more diversity in perspective,” stressed Ayo.

Aside from women empowerment, Ayo explained that MPG aims to bridge gap between communities and mentor student-athletes to embrace the role of the community builders and peace advocates with the initiatives of conducting coaches’ forum and athletes gathering aside from the usual sporting events.

“It (MPG) hopes to emphasize to the sports leaders of Mindanao schools to have a transformational presence in their immediate communities,” said Ayo.

Ayo said that the MPG has transcended from just sporting events into giving student-athletes, especially those Lumad participants, a chance to experience things beyond sports.

“Some of our Lumad participants and even those Muslims experienced going to a movie house for the first time,” said Ayo explaining that the MPG also offered film-showing to its participants.

Ayo stressed that these efforts could be small, even minute, but will have transformational impact on the lives of the students which could be seen in the near future.

MPG is an annual sporting event held every October participated by universities and colleges in Mindanao representing three ethnicities: Christian, Muslim and Lumad (indigenous people).

Hosted by Holy Trinity College of General Santos City on October 22 to 26, MPG gathered 12 schools namely Ateneo de Davao University, Xavier University Cagayan de Oro, Ateneo de Zamboanga University, Holy Cross of Davao College, La Salle University of Ozamis, Holy Trinity College of General Santos City, Fr. Saturino Urios University, St. Joseph Institute of technology Inc., Datu Ibrahim Paglas Memorial College in Maguindanao, Sebucal High School of Misamis Oriental, Mindanao State University Marawi, and Cor Jesu College of Digos.

Formerly Mindanao Unity Games, the event was renamed Mindanao Peace Games during the Annual Leaders’ Meeting held on October 2015, “to highlight the value it will play in the change and peace process in Mindanao”.