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Sports sprouts spotlight: Winning back life’s delight through Basketball

BUNKHOUSE PRIDE. Six of the fourteen IDP members of Tulungatung Basketball team (L-R) Ambing Jopakal, Loy Jamdani, James Jammang, Alkadz Sappari, Izan Jopakal.

BUNKHOUSE PRIDE. Six of the fourteen IDP members of Tulungatung Basketball team (L-R) Ambing Jopakal, Loy Jamdani, James Jammang, Alkadz Sappari, Izan Jopakal.

“Primo” (or cousin in local term) as they fondly call themselves, is a group of fourteen young men ages 15-21 who found great companionship when their families were transferred in Tulungatung Transitory site. “Fresh” as they recall back from their young minds how they left their humble homes when the fierce battle on September 9 awakened the city which caused most of them sudden displacement.
Tulungatung transitory site is 18 kilometers far from the main evacuation camp which is the Joaquin Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex. With twenty five (25) bunkhouses available, the site currently shelters 401 families with 2, 336 individuals who are mostly fire victims. Showing their grins as they gathered around for an interview, who would have thought they have been into this traumatic chaos?

James Jammang, 21, member of the group said that he personally do not know anybody from the group when their family decided to be transferred in bunkhouses. Living in such new community would require them to fit again in new setting of community and learn to know people around and perhaps win friends too. These young men indeed showed resiliency after they tried getting back to their normal lives, routines and what delighted them most, playing their favorite sport- Basketball.

Jammang and his other companions agreed that basketball paved the way for them to acquire new fellows since it has been their most loved leisure. Few meters away from the transitory site, there stand a covered basketball court of the local barangay where most of young people from the community and from the site gather every afternoon to spend time and play. Workers from DSWD and CSWDO said that these IDPs have easily adjusted with the community in the area where most of them mingle with local residents too.

Fourteen for “Team”

Ambing Jopakal (left) shares their strategies and experience gained during the basketball match.

Ambing Jopakal (left) shares their strategies and experience gained during the basketball match.

“Masaya kami dahil nakalimutan namin ang gulo doon” uttered by Ambing Jopakal, 19, member of the group when they were asked how does it feel to play Basketball everyday. Some added that it purges boredom among themselves when they play the sport.

Seeing their potentials to win, Christian Flores who acts as their youth leader in the site informed them of the Summer Camp for Youth organized City Social Welfare and Development Office of Zamboanga-Field Office 1 (Ayala District). Said camp will hold basketball league where interested IDPs from the area can join.

Filled with excitement and enthusiasm,few members of the group searched for potential members who will complete their team as they draw so much interest to join in the said league. After forming the complete line up, they officially named their team as “Tulungatung Bunkhouse IDPs”. When asked why did they not use other names, members said that they would be very proud to represent the whole IDPs in the site as young members of the community. They would like to see their fellow IDPs bring back again the smiles through their participation. They also see it as one way to veer away the doubts of the community in them.

With so much willingness to win, the group committed to undergo training facilitated by themselves. ” Madalas kame magpractice, mga alas cuatro ng hapon hanggang alas otso ng gabi, kahit walang ilaw sa court nagpapractice parin kami” (“We usually practice every 4 in the afternoon ’till 8 in the evening. Even without lights, we still pursue our practice in the court”) proudly shared by Jammang. Others have also shared that they usually wake up as early as 4am in the morning to jog around the site and in the community to improve their endurance. ” Nung mas malapit na ang laro, mas pinaigting namin ang paghahanda” (When the actual game is fast approaching, we intensify our preparations”) Jammang added.

Victory amidst Poverty

The group have defeated other teams leading their way to fight for the championship round. With the cheers and presence of their co-IDPs during the game, they felt like they were instant Superstars “Parang pinasaya namin ang mga taga bunkhouse…Hindi namin iniexpect na matalo namin ang ibang grupo dahil malalaki sila” (We felt like we also share the same joy with those from the bunkhouse.. We didn’t expect to win with other group because they are bigger than us” ) said Jopakal while telling their experiences.

“Tatlo lang sapatos namin, kapag may “Sub” ipahiram namin sa kasama namin. Ganun din ang shorts” (” We only have 3 shoes, if there’s someone who asks for “sub” in the group, we usually lend it to others, including our shorts” ) shared Jopakal when he was asked about their uniforms. They were the only teams who don’t have any uniform, common sharing of shoes and jerseys didn’t hinder them to lose hope nor feel disappointed.

The group bested other groups and placed Second to “Cawit Team” who emerged as champion for the feat. Though they did not win, the group felt it was an achievement for them to represent the entire IDPs of Tulungatung. They hope that such achievement would eventually simmer down stereotyping instead the public will realize that they also deserve such glory and opportunity.

Plans and Wishes

The group wanted to continue their participation in this kind of league not only to show off their skills but also to regain the lost pride in them as residents of this city. “Sana magkaroon na kami ng Jersey ” said by one of the member referring to the individual uniform they wanted to have. They also wished to join inter-barangay league to compete again with other barangay champs.

The IDPs are eagerly waiting for their real homecoming while the government is exerting gargantuan efforts in the rehabilitation of the affected barangays of the siege. The transitory site may just be a temporary shelter to them but it did not falter their hopes to rise again and bring back the normalcy in their daily living. The positivity of these young men did not only manifest pride and camaraderie but also a step to make a change amidst the situation. It was an intelligent initiative to make themselves feel be a source of inspiration to others and also to their fellow IDPs. ##

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- who has written 86 posts on DSWD Field Office IX Official Website.

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